Josh Replogle is a video journalist for The Associated Press, based in Miami. While he was in college, he worked at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
On Sunday morning, he was called by his boss to go cover the story at the place he used to work.
Replogle writes, the call to my south Florida home asking me to grab my camera gear and hit the road came at 3 a.m. Sunday. I drove up the turnpike with tears rolling down my cheeks, traveling to cover an unspeakable tragedy unfolding in a place that helped me become the man I am today.
Years ago, to help put myself through college, I was a straight man working at a gay dance club. That club was Pulse.
As a cash-strapped college student at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, I was more than willing to try something outside the box to earn good money. Taking that job selling shots of alcohol was one of the best decisions I've ever made. The gay community virtually adopted me and eased my college expenses with its generosity.
It feels surreal to now be a member of the news media covering the massacre at Pulse. I've focused my camera on countless murder scenes and tragic stories, and I rarely get emotional. I use my lens to distance me and keep work separate from real life.
But Pulse was a big part of my personal life, and it remains a big part of me eight years later. It shaped me. It made me a better person because it dissolved my ignorance of a community fighting for its rights. It showed me that community was full of people with big hearts who took care of each other and protected each other, too often when their own families had rejected them.