Poker champion pays tribute to Orlando shooting victims in victory speech
Poker champion Ryan Laplante choked back tears as he gave a moving speech in the aftermath of the Orlando nightclub shooting.
Laplante, one of only a handful of openly gay poker pros to win a prestigious World Series of Poker bracelet, used his acceptance speech to honour those who lost their lives after a gunman opened fire at the Pulse nightclub.
The American won $190,000, the biggest result of his career, and was presented with his award by fiancé Chris Katona in Las Vegas.
Admitting that he hadn't planned to give a speech, Laplante felt compelled to take to the stage after 50 people tragically lost their lives.
— WSOP (@WSOP) June 12, 2016
Wearing a rainbow wristband, Laplante made note of the fact that the massacre - in which a gay club was targeted specifically - took place during Gay Pride Month.
"I am so proud to call myself a World Series of Poker champion [and] I'm proud to call myself an openly gay man," Laplante said.
"I encourage all of you to be proud of who you are and be comfortable enough in yourself to be open with who you are with those around you if you so desire to do so.
Clip via CardPlayerDotCom
Below is a transcript of Laplante's speech in full:
"I wasn't going to give a speech today, but June is Gay Pride Month in the United States and last night, at a gay dance club in Orlando, the largest shooting massacre in US history occurred, in which over 50 people lost their lives and even more were sent to the hospital.
"So, even though I wasn't going to speak, I have four things I wanted to say.
"First, there are so many people that I am so deeply grateful to. Everyone who's shown support over the last few years, especially my fiancé Chris. I'm so grateful and I love him so, so much.
"Secondly, I am so proud to call myself a World Series of Poker champion.
"Thirdly, I'm proud to call myself an openly gay man, and I encourage all of you to be proud of who you are and be comfortable enough in yourself to be open with who you are with those around you if you so desire to do so.
"And finally, please treat each other with love and respect as there's too much hate and anger in this world."