Pulse victim: How I learned the meaning of survival

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( CNN) Merely the strong survive, they say. Survival of the fittest. But in the past year, the reality of my survival has been a painful journey of guilt, reflection, and hope.

On June 12, 2016, I escaped Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. That night had started like any other. Arm-in-arm with my best friends, Drew and Juan, “were in” racially intersectional and socially liberated. I was dancing with two left feet; I was safe. Moments afterwards, the first shoots rang out.

The stench of blood and smoking burned my nose while a dozen of us squatted in a dark corner of the bathroom. We listened to gunshot after gunshot. And when the second round started, I made a break for the door. I didn’t look right; didn’t look left. I merely gazed death in the face, praying for a way out. I survived, but my friends didn’t.

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