MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A beautiful rainbow, a symbol of unity, now illuminates Lincoln Road.
For Mario Perez, it’s a bitter sweet moment.
He flipped the switch – or pulled the piñata more appropriately – to display the colorful memorial for the 49 people who lost their lives 10 months ago.
On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen killed 49 and wounded 53 others, including Perez, at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
“The first rounds were the rounds that hit me and thankfully I was by the exit door when I was hit,” he said. “The minute it started, I was by the floor, so when he reloaded I ran out.”
Perez went to the club that night with 12 friends – only 10 made it out alive.
“Two of my friends passed away, Amanda and Mercedes,” he said. “I have their picture next to my bed. I wake up to them and I go to sleep to them every day.”
The city of Miami Beach asked Perez to illuminate Lincoln Road, kicking off Gay Pride Weekend.
It’s something he knew he had to do for the friends he lost.
“This is the world to me because they’re not here and I’m their voice,” he said.
This display is just one way the city is showing support.
Miami Beach began a “Safe Place” initiative.
The program is intended to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who experience discrimination.
If you see the rainbow colored decal on a business, it means hate crime victims can enter and remain there safe until police arrive.
For Perez, Thursday night is not just about the LGBTQ community. It’s about all of us, no matter race or sexual orientation.
“We are a big community and we should all support each other no matter what. No matter if you’re black, white, Hispanic, gay, lesbian,” Perez said. “We should be one community and all support each other.”