Orlando shooting hits close to home for Milwaukee LGBT Community Center: “It’s been really difficult”

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MILWAUKEE -- The impact of the Orlando mass shooting is being felt all over the country. It's hit very close to home for many right here in Milwaukee.

The victims, 49 of them, we're starting to see who they were and put names to those faces.

In Milwaukee, symbols of support for the survivors, for the loved ones of the victims, and for Orlando, still hang visible at City Hall. But as we found out Tuesday, some of that pain and support is internal a lot more than we might realize.LGBT MKE2

"It's absolutely heartbreaking to actually see the pictures of people murdered," said Executive Director of the LGBT Community Center, Karen Gotzler.

Face after face, someone's brother, friend, loved on...

Karen Gotzler

Karen Gotzler

"Particularly for me, personally, it's been really difficult to listen to interviews with family and friends of the people who were killed or injured," said Gotzler.

Sometimes for Karen Gotzler, those stories haven't come over the airwaves but in person.

"There's a very strong connection between Orlando and the Milwaukee area because it's a big vacation hot spot for Milwaukeeans to go to Orlando -- and Pulse is a very well known LGBT nightclub.

The Milwaukee LGBT Community Center has been providing crisis counseling over the last couple of days.

Milwaukee LGBT Community Center

Milwaukee LGBT Community Center

"It's really the need for people to share their feelings and to be able to tell someone that their cousin was at the nightclub. Or that they knew people from the bar, that they had been there in the past they had met some of those individuals," said Gotzler.

They also were involved in a more public outreach, a community vigil.Milwaukee community vigil for Orlando mass shooting victims

"It' was really very difficult for me to speak last night and to hold back my tears just because this was such a horrific act. But at the same time, it was an overwhelming feeling of support that there were so many people at the vigil and it wasn't just the the LGBT community but it was also many of our allies there with us, and so that part of it was very heartwarming," said Gotzler.

Gotzler says she's received over a dozen emails and calls from people after the vigil wanting to be allies with the LGBT community here in Milwaukee.

She also says she feels support from local law enforcement. The local FBI office was one of the first calls she got on Sunday morning, to let her organization know there was no threat to Milwaukee.