The site of the largest mass shooting in U.S. history will become a memorial.

"Christopher was my only child. As I used to tell him, 'You can't do better than perfect.'"

That is how Christine Leinonen explained her relationship to her son to the teary-eyed crowd at the 2016 Democratic National Convention on July 27, 2016. Her son, Christopher, and his boyfriend, Juan Ramon Guerrero, were two of the 49 victims who were killed at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.


Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

"Christopher's paternal grandparents met and fell in love in a Japanese internment camp," Leinonen noted, comforted by two of her son's friends at the podium. "So it was in his DNA that love always trumps hate."

While nothing can truly heal the loss of a child, Leinonen — and many other parents in her shoes — can at least rest assured that their children's memories will never be forgotten in Orlando.

The Pulse nightclub is slated to construct a permanent memorial honoring the victims of the June 12, 2016, massacre.

The LGBTQ nightclub's owner, Barbara Poma, filed paperwork with the State of Florida on behalf of the OnePulse Foundation earlier this month to fund and construct a monument honoring Christopher and the other victims, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

The incident marked the largest mass shooting in American history.

Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images.

The specifics of Pulse's future as a nightclub are still a bit unknown, seeing as the community is still reeling from unprecedented tragedy and loss. But Poma is set on two things: Pulse will return as a safe space for the LGBTQ community, and it will always honor those who lost their lives this June.

"Anything we would ever do would include a memorial," she told the Sentinel.

Tragically, what happened at Pulse is symbolic of a much larger systemic issue: violence against LGBTQ people — and, particularly, queer people of color.

While simply being LGBTQ means you're living more at-risk of discrimination, black and Latinx queer people — especially those who are transgender — are "massively overrepresented among victims of anti-LGBT violence," Fusion reported, pointing to data from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.

The majority of people who died at Pulse were LGBTQ people of color.


Photo by Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images.

Although we've taken monumental strides forward toward equality in recent years on issues like marriage equality and same-sex adoption, that level of progress hasn't been felt on every issue across the board.

In fact, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported in 2011 that LGBTQ people "are far more likely than any other minority group in the United States to be victimized by [a] violent hate crime."

In her heart-wrenching speech at the DNC, Leinonen encouraged us all not to feel helpless, but to fight so that no other parent needs to experience what she has.

That fight for justice, she said, certainly includes gun control.

"At the time [Christopher was born], I was a Michigan state trooper," she explained. "When I went into labor, the hospital put my off-duty gun in a safe. I didn't argue — I know common-sense gun policies save lives."

"I'm glad common-sense gun policy was in place the day Christopher was born, but where was that common sense the day he died? I never want you to ask that question about your child."

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

Lainey and baby goat Annie. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse
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Oftentimes, the journey to our true calling is winding and unexpected. Take Lainey Morse, who went from office manager to creator of the viral trend, Goat Yoga, thanks to her natural affinity for goats and throwing parties.

Back in 2015, Lainey bought a farm in Oregon and got her first goats who she named Ansel and Adams. "Once I got them, I was obsessed," says Lainey. "It was hard to get me off the farm to go do anything else."

Right away, she noticed what a calming presence they had. "Even the way they chew their cud is relaxing to be around because it's very methodical," she says. Lainey was going through a divorce and dealing with a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis at the time, but even when things got particularly hard, the goats provided relief.

"I found it impossible to be stressed or depressed when I was with them."

She started inviting friends up to the farm for what she called "Goat Happy Hour." Soon, the word spread about Lainey's delightful, stress-relieving furry friends. At one point, she auctioned off a child's birthday party at her farm, and the mom asked if they could do yoga with the goats. And lo, the idea for goat yoga was born.

A baby goat on a yoga student. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse

Goat yoga went viral so much so that by fall of 2016, Lainey was able to quit her office manager job at a remodeling company to manage her burgeoning goat yoga business full-time. Now she has 10 locations nationwide.

Lainey handles the backend management for all of her locations, and loves that side of the business too, even though it's less goat-related. "I still have my own personal Goat Happy Hour every single day so I still get to spend a lot of time with my goats," says Lainey. "I get the best of both worlds."

Lainey with her goat Fabio. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse

Since COVID-19 hit, her locations have had to close temporarily. She hopes her yoga locations will be able to resume classes in the spring when the vaccine is more widely available. "I think people will need goat yoga more than ever before, because everyone has been through so much stress in 2020," says Lainey.

Major life changes like Lainey's can come around for any number of reasons. Even if they seem out of left field to some, it doesn't mean they're not the right moves for you. The new FOX series "Call Me Kat", which premieres Sunday, January 3rd after NFL and will continue on Thursday nights beginning January 7th, exemplifies that. The show is centered around Kat, a 39-year old single woman played by Mayim Bialik, who quit her math professor job and spent her life's savings to pursue her dreams to open a Cat Café in Louisville, Kentucky.

Jeff Harry started making similar moves when he was just 10-years-old, and kept making them throughout his life. After seeing the movie "Big,"Jeff knew he wanted to play with toys for a living, so he started writing toy companies asking for next steps. He finally got a response when he was a sophomore in high school — the company told him he needed to become a mechanical engineer first.

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