Last night, a suicide bomber attacked an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England killing 22 people and injuring 59. Gay writer Matt Lister was at the concert and we’re sharing his experience along with more information about the attack below.
The bomber detonated his device in the entrance of the Manchester Arena as people began to leave shortly after Grande’s last song, “Dangerous Woman.” Lister and his boyfriend, Ben, had begun heading towards the exit when they heard the bomb detonate:
“We heard this huge explosion. The ground shook and for a few seconds there was silence, then the screams came. We saw thousands of people pouring out of every exit, running and screaming.
People lost their shoes, they were jumping barriers, kids had been separated from parents. I just grabbed (my partner) Ben and said ‘We have to get out of here now but be careful there’s going to be stampedes, now run!’
We ran down the street away from the arena, where there were countless people scattered around in hysterics. Young girls trying to find their friends. The sirens seemed to come as soon as we got around the corner.”
Lister says that there were many LGBTQ people at the concert and added that the morning following the tragedy, hundreds of people had lined up outside of blood donation centers to give, hotels had set up missing person centers for folks lost in the attack and taxi drivers began providing free rides for those who needed them. A 29-year-old gay man, Martyn Hett, is still missing following the attack.
Daesh (aka. ISIS), the anti-LGBTQ militant terrorist group, has claimed responsibility for the attack, but that is potentially meaningless as they often align themselves with “lone wolf” attackers to seem more influential than they actually are. Their claim does not necessarily mean that the bomber shared their ideology or had any support from or connection to the group — police are investigating the extent of their actual involvement. Police have also arrested a 23-year-old in connection to the bombing.
British-born late night talk show host James Corden got emotional while speaking out about the tragedy. He, Nicki Minaj, Lorde, Katy Perry, Justin Timberlake, Cher and other celebrities have all spoken out about it on Twitter. The Queen of England and U.S. President Donald Trump have also both made statements about the attack.
Grande herself tweeted out the message: “I am so so sorry. I don’t have words.” Grande won’t perform in London on Thursday as planned and has suspended the rest of her European tour indefinitely.
(Featured image by andrewmedina via iStock Photography)