Los Angeles’ Outfest Film Festival kicked off its week-long celebration of LGBT films on Thursday with a powerful speech by Wilson Cruz, who used the opportunity to address the recent dark times that the U.S. has been facing.
“It’s very easy to feel like a hunted animal these days,” the emotional actor said, before empowering the crowd with his compelling words.
“I don’t want you to retreat. I don’t want you to dim your light. I want you to shine it brighter,” said Cruz.
The activist then paid tribute to the victims of the Orlando massacre, one of which was his mother’s stepsister.
“We lost 49 people,” he said. “49 individuals with individual stories. Most of them part of marginalized Latino and LGBT communities. They were like so many of our invisible heroes.”
Cruz used to be a former national spokesman for GLAAD, and urged the crowd to tell the stories of the victims and the people of color who are now unable to.
“My hope tonight is that this room of creators and storytellers will find inspiration in this tragedy somehow and in these 49 lost lives,” he said. “It shouldn’t take their murders for them to be worthy of our attention.”
Listen to his entire poignant speech below.