"I want people to know that there are people who are here and that love them."
The day after the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando in 2016, Lauren Rowland started Hear My Song, an annual benefit concert supporting the LGBT community.
The first year they raised $450 to help the victims and their families.
Hear My Song held it’s second benefit concert in June 2017 in Morristown, New Jersey, raising $800 for the Essex County LGBT Rain Foundation, the only homeless shelter for LGBT youth in New Jersey.
When I found out about the Pulse shooting in Orlando, I was really devastated. What is saying a prayer on Facebook for these people going to do for them?
What could I do?
I sent out this mass message on Facebook to everybody I knew that I've done theater with. I was like, “We want to put on this show. We would probably be putting it up in like three weeks. Who wants to do it?”
Everybody said yes.
I grew up in the music theater community. A lot of my friends were struggling with coming out to their parents and publicly in high school. When I went to college for theater, some of these kids were homeschooled and didn't really have an outlet. People were being sent to conversion therapy. I heard all of these things and I was just like,
I can't believe that this is happening.
I want people to know that there are people who are here and that love them.
I want people to know that they are supported and that that we're here for them. That people care.
I was working at a full-time job at a retail store as the assistant manager. I was kind of rising up very quickly.
I literally hated going to work every day.
For the first time on that Saturday [of the first show], I felt like, Wow! My life can have a purpose, even if it's not me shining in the light of me being the performer, me being the star. I don't have to be the star of the show to feel completely fulfilled.
That was very life-changing for me.