Have Strength In The Wake Of The Storm!!


It’s been a day since a horrific act was committed against the LGBTQ and Latino community in Orlando; the sadness, fear, anger and frustration that lingers in our minds and hearts will continue to sting our memories for years to come.

As the wake of destruction settles; we all, at one point in the next few days, will introspectively look at how this could have been prevented and how we personally have been affected by this catastrophe. Our thoughts and movements must not stop there, we have persevere and never forget to remember the beautiful souls that were taken away due to senseless actions fueled by hatred for those who only wanted to love.

I can’t help but to think, “This could have been me”. It could have been anyone one of you standing here tonight. What if one night, you or I just wanted to dance and enjoy this beautiful gift we call life, only to have it stolen from us in a hail of bullets; in a matter of seconds. One of those victims could have been someone I loved, someone you loved who was ripped away from this life for no other reason than malice.

It’s unthinkable that in this day and age, the safe spaces we’ve carved for ourselves, the safe places where we are able to hold hands, express ourselves and our love can be compromised in such a way that it causes our progress as a community to be halted and dissected. We can’t allow our community to regress. We will not allow our grief to consume us or the hatred of others tear us down.

Unity is important for the betterment of the world today, tomorrow and next week. It is important for our future. This isn’t just Florida’s tragedy, it is also ours. Creating a dialogue about what happened can ultimately bond us, especially when fear and ignorance tries to divide us at potent moments like these.

As Co-president of the New Jersey LGBT Chamber of Commerce, we stand in support with our fellow chamber members and with the MBA Orlando as they work with local community leaders and organizations during this tragedy. The reality is, there is a long road to travel for true equality and safety. We must work together and lead the way for positive change.

Our mission must be to counter these acts of violence with solidarity and promote the vision to protect ALL in our community from harm. We will be working to partner with our local government officials, community leaders and organizations to move forward in peace and resilience.

We are to remain strong. We are to remain vigilant. We HAVE to remain proud of who we are.

Please join me in a moment of silence as I read of the names of those whose souls were taken too soon from this earth.

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34

Stanley Almodovar III, 23

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20

Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22

Luis S. Vielma, 22

K.J. Morris, 37

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30

Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, 25

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35

Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50

Amanda Alvear, 25

Martin Benitez Torres, 33

Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37

Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26

Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35

Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25

Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31

Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26

Enrique L. Rios Jr., 25

Miguel Angel Honorato, 30

Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40

Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32

Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19

Cory James Connell, 21

Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37

Luis Daniel Conde, 39

Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33

Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25

Darryl Roman Burt II, 29

Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32

Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21

Jerald Arthur Wright, 31

Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25

Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25

Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24

Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27

Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33

Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49

Yilmary Rodriguez Sullivan, 24

Christopher “Drew” Leinonen, 32

Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28

Frank Hernandez, 27

Paul Terrell Henry, 41


Thank you






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