Friday Forum: Brandon Wolf

Brandon Wolf is a survivor of the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida in which 49 innocent club-goers were shot and killed by a single assailant armed with semi-automatic weapons. Far from a simple tale of survival, Mr. Wolf spoke to the schoolwide Friday Forum audience about his journey of self-discovery and response to the tragedy that robbed him of his best friends and chosen family.

Growing up Black and gay in a small Oregon town, Mr. Wolf struggled to live his truth before taking the leap of faith that led him to a joyously out life in Orlando, Florida, where he worked at Walt Disney World. Mr. Wolf embraced life with his chosen family and became part of a close-knit queer community, including his best friends, both tragically and senselessly murdered in the nightclub massacre. 

Mr. Wolf survived the ordeal but lives with profound loss and the trauma of having his community and safe space attacked. In time, Mr. Wolf sought to channel his sorrow and rage into action and began to share his story, volunteer with anti-violence causes, and demand gun safety legislation from politicians. Mr. Wolf resisted the urge to retreat or turn inward and chose instead to honor the lives of his lost family and friends by demanding stricter gun laws and gun safety measures. 

Students asked questions about recovery, forgiveness, and a way forward. “I want to send a message to others to be proud of who they are and not to be afraid to be their authentic selves,” responded Mr. Wolf.
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