When Drew Phoenix heard of the Orlando shooting that left at least 50 dead at a gay nightclub, he said he was “horrified.”


“Everyone deserves the right to be safe, LGBT individuals included,” said Phoenix, the executive director of Identity Inc., an organization dedicated to supporting LGBT people in Alaska.


Identity is the primary organizer of Alaska Pridefest, the annual celebration of the LGBT community. Phoenix said after the Orlando shooting, he will be talking to law enforcement agencies about how to make the Pride Parade and other events as safe as possible.


“We’re going to be speaking with Chief Tolley and the local police force to make sure that precautions are in place,” said Phoenix. He added they would also be working with “other agencies across the state to see what we can do to prevent things such as what happened in Orlando.”


Sunday evening, Identity co-hosted a vigil at the First Presbyterian Church downtown with Christians for Equality, a religious organization supporting marginalized people.


Phoenix said the purpose of the vigil is to “embrace and uphold our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters in Orlando, remember the victims and their families, and offer support in whatever way we can.”


Earlier Sunday, a space was set up inside the church to allow people to pray or talk to someone about the tragedy.


“It’s a safe place. It’s a quiet place,” said Candace Bell, who is a member of Christians for Equality who is also on the board of directors for Identity.


She said the shooting is a reminder that there is still a significant amount of hatred toward LGBT people.


“When people preach hate, no matter what their religion, it gives tacit permission for this kind of tragedy,” said Bell. “That deeply, deeply grieves me.”


A second vigil is planned at Mad Myrna’s nightclub on Fifth Avenue at 9 p.m. Sunday.


KTVA 11's Eric Ruble can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.