EXCLUSIVE: Columbus LGBT activist had connection to Orlando nightclub and victims

Exclusive: Columbus LGBT activist had connection to Orlando nightclub and victims

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - One Columbus LGBT activist has a connection to at least five of the people killed at Club Pulse in Orlando over the weekend.

In 2002, Tan Coleman, former vice president of Columbus' COLGAY Pride, promoted Club Pulse.

Several of the people killed during the mass shooting Sunday partied at the club back during the time she did promotion.

"It was a safe haven," said Coleman.

Coleman said 49 people senselessly murdered should be a wake-up call for hate crimes committed against the LGBT community everyday in America.

"Would you hate me so much if you understood that I cry like you? Would you hate me so much if you understand that I have so many people that hate me… could you possibly be one of the people to love me?" asked Coleman.

In 2014, according to the FBI more than 20 percent of hate crimes reported to police were due to sexual orientation. More than 60 percent of those attacks were against gay men and 14 percent against gay women. 

Coleman said hate crimes against the LGBT community has to stop.

"My reality is that tomorrow another gay person will be hated upon, the day after another gay person will be hated upon," Coleman said. 

Coleman said during her eight years living in Orlando, she promoted Club Pulse for two years. When she learned several of her friends were killed on Sunday, she says she felt violated.
"We hide anyways, so go to a place we felt was safe, serene and to have someone come in to violate our peace of mind and remind us that we are not wanted its hard… it hurts," Coleman said.

For now Coleman is not addressing her friends by name out of respect for their biological families, who she says may or may not have been aware of their sexual preference.

"For their personal privacy I wouldn't do it because I truly do not know if the families will allow their names to be released," says Coleman.

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