CandysDirt_logo_prideWords cannot describe the horror we at felt as the events of Orlando, Florida unfolded. Four of us had just returned from a celebratory trip to New Orleans, where we took home three achievement awards. Somehow that joy was diminished by the slaughter that took place in Orlando, a city known as a place of happiness, where we take children to theme park pilgrimages. Who wants to think about luxurious real estate when 49 people are dead, many more injured, and one of the sunniest cities in the world is bleeding?

A few years back, I wrote for AOL Real Estate on the hot second home market in Orlando, at one time the hottest vacation home market in the nation. This is where Disney developed Golden Oak, homes priced between $1.5 million and $8 million, in a state where the foreclosure rate was also once among the nation’s highest.

The 980-acre Golden Oak development, with two golf courses within the 40 square miles of Disney’s Orlando theme parks, will ultimately house 450 homes and a 445-room Four Seasons hotel sitting in the very center of the development. Disney is also the developer of Celebration, a 4,900-acre development adjacent to their Orlando theme parks, built in the mid-1990s as a new model of small-town living. Completely pedestrian-oriented, the primary-home community of 6,000 homes was designed to be economically diverse, and every commercial structure engineered to be no more than one mile away. I’ve been to Celebration, and it was idyllic. As is the City of Orlando.

Now this community is hurting.

We wanted to share with you some ways to help the Orlando victims’ loved ones:

Local LGBT civil rights organization Equality Florida has set up a GoFundMe page to support the Pulse nightclub shooting victims and their families. More than $1.7 million has already been donated as of Monday afternoon. Donate here.

LGBTQ advocacy nonprofit Planting Peace has launched a CrowdRise campaign to help cover the victims’ medical costs, as well as funeral costs. Donate here.

CrowdRise has also launched a larger relief fund supporting a number of charitable causes, both those helping the victims of the Orlando shooting, as well as those working long-term to address issues of inequality and gun safety. Donate here.

A variety of local Central Florida LGBT organizations have partnered to run an emergency hotline and grief counselors at the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida. They have also set up a GoFundMe page, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the Orlando shooting victims and their families. Donate here

Oh and yes, we have changed our logo for a bit to show our support for the City of Orlando, Florida, our love for people of all types, sizes, ethnicities, no matter what home they live in, and our prayer is that this is the last massacre.

Brenda Marks Legacy of Love DefacingPhoto courtesy of Brenda Marks

Update: Let the power be with you! Brandon Meeks of OSME Power Washing Services donated his time to power wash off those nasty numbers. All gone! Anyone need a great power washer for a patio or home? Call Brandon Meeks: he has a big heart, too!

You’ve got to wonder, as I always do, what lurks in the brains of people who do stuff like this?

Over the weekend, at least two spots in Oak Lawn, including the Legacy of Love Monument, a landmark for the city’s LGBT community, were defaced with red paint early Sunday morning.

At the Legacy of Love Monument, located at the intersection of Cedar Springs Road and Oak Lawn Avenue, vandals painted the numbers “666”. (more…)