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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 2, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 36
Marine veteran hero of nightclub shooting to be honored at gala in San Diego
Section One
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Marine veteran hero of nightclub shooting to be honored at gala in San Diego

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

Let's be real for a moment. Bouncers and people who work the door at nightclubs have a tough job. It's dangerous, often thankless, and the pay sucks. However - and there are many, many examples of this each year - they end up saving lives, protect the community from the 'bad' that happens outside of their doors, and are one of the reasons that Gay nightclubs feel so safe, even when the reality is that they are just as open to attack or criminal activity as any straight nightclub.

Still, every now and then, a true hero emerges from the ranks of nightclub security and inspires us all.

On Tuesday, the American Military Partner Association (AMPA), the nation's largest organization of LGBT military families, announced that Imran Yousuf of Orlando, Fla., will be honored with the 2016 AMPA Community Hero Award at the inaugural AMPA West Coast Gala on September 17 in San Diego.

Yousuf, a recent Marine Corps veteran, is widely credited with having saved more than 70 lives during the worst mass shooting in recent history at the Orlando LGBT nightclub, Pulse, in June.

'Imran represents the best of America and the best of America's military community, as evidenced by his quick and heroic actions amid the chaos and carnage of the tragedy in Orlando,' said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. 'While he humbly may not consider himself a hero, his courageous actions in the face of mortal danger that saved the lives of more than 70 of our LGBT brothers and sisters say otherwise. He is certainly a hero to our community and to all of America, and we are proud to honor Imran with our 2016 Community Hero Award at the inaugural AMPA West Coast Gala in San Diego.'

Early in the morning of June 12, Omar Mateen pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, entered the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and began the worst mass shooting in American history. By the time the carnage ended, 49 innocent people were dead and an additional 53 were injured in the attack.

According to witness accounts, while the shooting was ongoing, Yousuf, a bouncer at the Pulse who had recently finished an enlistment in the Marine Corps, noticed a group of trapped patrons who were paralyzed with fear. Yousuf exposed himself to danger by rushing over to the aid of the huddled group, breaking open a door, and allowing more than 70 potential victims to flee the massacre and survive.

Yousuf has only appeared at one other public event since the Orlando tragedy, the Houston Pride Parade, where as a hero and ally of the LGBT community, he was made an Honorary Grand Marshal. The AMPA West Coast Gala in San Diego will be the first military-themed event to honor the Marine Corps veteran for his actions.

Imran Yousuf served as an Engineer Equipment Electrical Systems Technician in the Marine Corps from 2010 to 2016, including a deployment to Afghanistan in 2011.

'After three years of growing attendance at the annual AMPA National Gala in Washington, DC, AMPA this year launched its inaugural West Coast Gala at the San Diego Sheraton Hotel & Marina,' says the AMPA website. 'In addition to Yousuf, AMPA previously announced that it will also honor nationally renowned LGBT military scholar and advocate Dr. Aaron Belkin, the founder and director of the Michael D. Palm Center, and Major General Trish Rose, the highest ranking openly LGBT service member in the United States military, as well as several local AMPA members and volunteers.'

Tickets for the gala and more information can be found at www.MilitaryPartners.org/WestCoastGala.

The American Military Partner Association is the nation's largest organization of LGBT military spouses, families, and allies. With over 45,000 members and supporters throughout the country and around the world, AMPA is committed to education, advocacy, and support for our 'modern military families.'

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