Bien recibido el primer manual de crímenes de odio…

IMG_0080.PNGPor Javier Colón Dávila
El Nuevo Día

El Manual para la Identificación e Investigación de Crímenes de Odio, divulgado recientemente por la Policía, fue recibido con algún grado de beneplácito, pero con reservas, por parte de activistas de grupos descritos en el documento como “clases protegidas”.

Por crimen de odio se conoce cualquier delito cometido contra un integrante de una “clase protegida” por razón de raza, sexo, orientación sexual, color, nacionalidad, origen étnico, creencias, afiliación religiosa, creencias políticas, discapacidades físicas o mentales y condición social.

Ivana Fred, mujer transexual, colaboró en la elaboración del manual impartiendo talleres a policías en la Academia en Gurabo.

“Vi un grupo de personas comprometidas. Me comprometí en conseguir chicas de la comunidad transexual y se grabaron vídeos. Fue algo dramatizado y fue fantástico”, contó.

“Me llevo la satisfacción de que pudieron obtener de mi parte una educación”, agregó.

Hace cuatro años, agentes de la División de Drogas de San Juan irrumpieron en su apartamento, sin orden de allanamiento, buscando sustancias controladas que nunca aparecieron. El grupo fue absuelto en los tribunales estatales, pero seis están presos a nivel federal por corrupción.

Fred insistió en que independientemente de las creencias de cualquier policía, “tienen que acatar lo que dicen las órdenes y no estar pendientes de sus prejuicios”.

Denunció, incluso, que existe la tendencia de tratar distinto a mujeres transexuales, cuyo físico va acorde a la definición tradicional de belleza y aquellas que no. “Insisten en que son hombres y las humillan”, sostuvo.

Para Pedro Julio Serrano, activista de la comunidad LBGTT, el manual, sin el adiestramiento adecuado, será letra muerta, aunque lo describió como “un buen ejercicio de trabajo”. Advirtió, sin embargo, que identificó dos ejemplos de crímenes de odio en el que el lenguaje explicativo podría justificar una agresión.

En un caso se indica que la mujer transexual fue atacada “por parecerse a una mujer”, y en otro los agresores vieron a las víctimas como “personas impropias”.

“El prejuicio del agresor es la motivación del crimen, no la conducta o características de la víctima”, apuntó Serrano.

El activista sí resaltó que el manual es el primer documento público en la Isla en que se define un grupo de odio. Según él, en esa categoría entra Puerto Rico por la Familia, en la medida en que “promueven la animosidad, la hostilidad o la maldad”.

“Con La Comay se demostró que lo que estaba haciendo ‘Kobbo’ Santarrosa con el personaje no era cobijado por la libre expresión, sino que llega a esa definición (de grupo de odio) porque incita al odio”, dijo.

Serrano destacó que el Departamento de Justicia solo ha logrado que se validen agravantes de crimen de odio una vez, y fue la muerte a puñaladas en julio del año pasado del estilista Miguel Rodríguez Fernández a manos de un hombre y su hijo. Serrano dijo que la Policía quería clasificar el crimen como uno “pasional”, tras concluir que la víctima y uno de los victimarios tenían una relación y partieron de la premisa de que los dos eran homosexuales.

En el caso de José Rodríguez, presidente del Comité Dominicano de Derechos Humanos, la confección del manual, que describió como “abarcador”, es un paso de avance.

“Es un beneplácito que se haya creado. Ya era hora de que hubiera una guía para identificar los crímenes de odio”, dijo Rodríguez, quien en el pasado ha protagonizado agrias disputas con el superintendente José Caldero, al señalar a la Uniformada por supuestamente cometer actos de abuso contra los dominicanos.

“Felicito al superintendente. Los casos (de abuso) han menguado”, dijo.

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Descartado Cidre como opción para la comunidad LGBTT…

Manuel Cidre.El activista de derechos humanos Pedro Julio Serrano consideró, hoy, que Manuel Cidre “se descartó así mismo, anoche en el debate, como alternativa a la gobernación para quienes creemos en la igualdad para la gente LGBTT”.

“Anoche, Manuel Cidre exhortó al País a educarse sobre los temas de la comunidad lésbica, gay, bisexual, transgénero y transexual. Sin embargo, al contestar anoche que no está del todo de acuerdo con el matrimonio igualitario y con la adopción por parejas del mismo sexo, demostró que el primero que tiene que educarse es él. Ya el matrimonio igualitario y la adopción para parejas LGBTT son un hecho en Puerto Rico y no daremos marcha atrás”, aseveró Serrano.

El portavoz de Puerto Rico Para Tod@s, quien se había reunido con Cidre y éste le había asegurado que apoyaba los derechos LGBTT, se mostró decepcionado con el cambio de postura del candidato independiente.

“Cuando nos reunimos, él me aseguró que apoyaba la igualdad LGBTT, tanto así que publicó un vídeo en su página de Facebook reafirmando ese apoyo. Luego, en entrevista con un diario, empezó a dar marcha atrás a ese compromiso. Anoche, botó la bola y rompió el bate al poner en entredicho el apoyo a nuestro estado de derecho que reconoce el matrimonio igualitario y la adopción para las parejas LGBTT. Eso es inaceptable para quienes creemos en la igualdad para todos los seres humanos. La equidad a medias no es equidad. Siga su propio consejo, Cidre, edúquese sobre el tema LGBTT si quiere gobernar a este país”, concluyó Serrano.

Conversations With Change Makers: Pedro Julio Serrano…

11953544_10153660675174954_42210453726165140_oBy Isabella Phillipi | The Odyssey

“The struggle for social justice is never one that is done unilaterally.”

Author’s note: This is the first article in a series that I like to call “Conversations with Change Makers”, in which I will be highlighting those who are currently making a social impact in our world today, whether they be well known or are slowly helping make the world a better place. Enjoy!

If you are either at an LGBT pride or Puerto Rican pride event, and you see a huge smile shining out from the crowd, no doubt you’ve just seen the island’s most famous Human Rights Activist- Mr. Pedro Julio Serrano.

Activist Pedro Julio Serrano was born on October 2, 1974, in Ponce, Puerto Rico, but was raised in the area of Isla Verde in San Juan. There he studied in Colegio La Piedad during his elementary and high school years and later went on to study Communications at the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras.Though he became more well known for his stance on LGBT issues when he ran for the Puerto Rico House of Representatives, his passion for social justice has always been present.

“When I was 13 years old I organized a march against drugs. And then when I was 16, I organized a march in favor of peace, because there was the first Gulf War happening in 1991.” Serrano told me, looking back on his beginnings. “I’ve always been involved in social justice causes.”

6 years later, Pedro Julio’s social justice passion would come out once again when then-governor of Puerto Rico, Pedro Rosselló, signed House Bill 1013.

“In October of 1997, the House of Representatives was holding public hearings on an appeal that wanted to prohibit what already was prohibited, which was marriage for same-sex couples, and it was the H.B. 1013. And I said ‘I need to go and testify at that public hearing.’, and I exercised my public duty as a citizen and I testified.”

His presence at the hearing, in fact, had such a huge impact on his life that he made a decision that would forever mark Puerto Rican history and the beginning of his career as an LGBT activist.

“When I went there, I understood the importance of being out and proud as an openly gay individual, and I decided that I would try to run for a seat for a political career, and that’s how I started.”

Pedro Julio Serrano then became the first candidate in Puerto Rican political history to publicly announce his homosexuality and the first candidate to announce his HIV-positive status. This upcoming 2017, Serrano will mark his 20th anniversary as an LGBT activist.

Even though he has not run for office since 1998, Pedro Julio has called gubernatorial candidates out as a result of the lack of LGBT proposals in recent elections, ranging from ex-Governor Luis Fortuño, current Governor Alejandro García Padilla, and many of this years’ candidates, especially the New Progressive —one of the major political parties on the island that advocates for statehood and is affiliated with the GOP —candidate, son of former Governor Pedro Rosselló- the infamous Dr. Ricardo Rosselló, a candidate so radical here on the island that some have compared him to be a Puerto Rican ‘Trump’. Though after our interview, Dr. Rosselló added the LGBT community to his original plan to allow the government to defend the rights of religious organizations, Rosselló Nevares has been known for being very anti-LGBT. I asked Serrano that if Rosselló were to be elected, how the LGBT community would be affected.

“I think it’s very different to campaign than to govern. I truly believe that if he is elected, which I hope he’s not. Not just because of his stances on LGBT issues but on other issues as well of the Fiscal Control Board and others, that he will have to change; public pressure will be strong; if he tries to take away the rights of LGBT people, he will surely have a fight,that we will fight with everything that we have so we make sure that those rights are not taken away.And it will hurt Puerto Rico, if he does something of that nature, like in North Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee, which have implemented laws against LGBT people, so if he tries to go that route, it will hurt the economy of Puerto Rico, it will hurt our standing in the world, and it will hurt himself and his administration because he will have a very strong fight in his hands.” Pedro Julio Serrano predicts.
In 2003, Serrano founded the non-profit organization Puerto Rico Para Tod@s (PRPT), which fights for equal rights and the inclusion of the LGBT community and for social justice for all on the island.

“The struggle for social justice is never one that is done unilaterally,we have to confront oppression from every angle because the root of oppression is the same for sexism, racism, homophobia, classicism, for any type of intolerance, it’s the same root. When I created this organization, I wanted to create an organization that fought for everyone, not just for some,and not just for the LGBT community, but for everyone. [Puerto Rico Para Tod@s] has been involved in all the major social justices causes in Puerto Rico like feminism, standing against racism, against xenophobia, standing for the people from the poor communities. We’ve been there with students, teachers, public employees fighting for their retirement funds, we’ve been there, fighting for all, and it’s why we created Puerto Rico Para Tod@s.”

I asked Mr. Serrano if he felt that the organization has been successful with its mission, and on the island overall, to which he agreed wholeheartedly that they’ve had incredible achievements as an organization.

“We were instrumental in the approval of LGBT laws in Puerto Rico, we have been very successful in creating public education campaigns. I even helped with the coming out of Ricky Martin and Orlando Cruz, the first ever openly gay boxer.”

Serrano standing with Cruz at one of his matches

“We have been instrumental in the struggle, and we have created the Jornada Educativa Contra la Homofobia, which is a conference that focuses on educating against homophobia that happens every 2 years, so we’ve been successful on what we stand.And that’s only talking about the LGBT stuff, we’ve also been very involved in many, many struggles that have had a lot of success as well.” Serrano told me with pride.

I discussed with Serrano his most famous achievement- the boycott and eventual cancellation of the infamous gossip WAPA-TV show SuperXclusivo, whose program and hosts (the life-sized puppet La Comay -voiced and puppeteered by Kobbo Santarrosa- and Héctor Travieso) had become a staple in Puerto Rican culture for 13 years. It even gained so much popularity that The Daily Show interviewed the show’s hosts! However, this show was incredibly xenophobic, homophobic and racist during its long run.

“Our organization led the boycott against SuperXclusivo- La Comay’s show- and we took it off the air […] It was something that was very hard fought. People just remember the boycott, which started in December and by January [SuperXclusivo] was off the air, but it was something that really started back in 2006, so it took us many years to get them off the airways. Before the boycott happened, we successfully managed for the first and only time that [Santarrosa] apologized for something he had said wrong, until the end, which was when he called me ‘pato’ (Puerto Rican slur for gay) and he used my HIV condition to try to demean me, and he was also attacking Ricky Martin and saying that his kids would turn out gay because he was gay too. So that was a whole time that he apologized before, at the end of his career when he apologized because of the comments he said against Jose Enrique Gomez Saladin, which a case that brought him down.”
“When I was 13 years old I organized a march against drugs. And then when I was 16, I organized a march in favor of peace, because there was the first Gulf War happening in 1991.” Serrano told me, looking back on his beginnings. “I’ve always been involved in social justice causes.”

6 years later, Pedro Julio’s social justice passion would come out once again when then-governor of Puerto Rico, Pedro Rosselló, signed House Bill 1013.

“In October of 1997, the House of Representatives was holding public hearings on an appeal that wanted to prohibit what already was prohibited, which was marriage for same-sex couples, and it was the H.B. 1013. And I said ‘I need to go and testify at that public hearing.’, and I exercised my public duty as a citizen and I testified.”

His presence at the hearing, in fact, had such a huge impact on his life that he made a decision that would forever mark Puerto Rican history and the beginning of his career as an LGBT activist.

“When I went there, I understood the importance of being out and proud as an openly gay individual, and I decided that I would try to run for a seat for a political career, and that’s how I started.”

Pedro Julio Serrano then became the first candidate in Puerto Rican political history to publicly announce his homosexuality and the first candidate to announce his HIV-positive status. This upcoming 2017, Serrano will mark his 20th anniversary as an LGBT activist.

Even though he has not run for office since 1998, Pedro Julio has called gubernatorial candidates out as a result of the lack of LGBT proposals in recent elections, ranging from ex-Governor Luis Fortuño, current Governor Alejandro García Padilla, and many of this years’ candidates, especially the New Progressive —one of the major political parties on the island that advocates for statehood and is affiliated with the GOP —candidate, son of former Governor Pedro Rosselló- the infamous Dr. Ricardo Rosselló, a candidate so radical here on the island that some have compared him to be a Puerto Rican ‘Trump’. Though after our interview, Dr. Rosselló added the LGBT community to his original plan to allow the government to defend the rights of religious organizations, Rosselló Nevares has been known for being very anti-LGBT. I asked Serrano that if Rosselló were to be elected, how the LGBT community would be affected.

“I think it’s very different to campaign than to govern. I truly believe that if he is elected, which I hope he’s not. Not just because of his stances on LGBT issues but on other issues as well of the Fiscal Control Board and others, that he will have to change; public pressure will be strong; if he tries to take away the rights of LGBT people, he will surely have a fight,that we will fight with everything that we have so we make sure that those rights are not taken away.And it will hurt Puerto Rico, if he does something of that nature, like in North Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee, which have implemented laws against LGBT people, so if he tries to go that route, it will hurt the economy of Puerto Rico, it will hurt our standing in the world, and it will hurt himself and his administration because he will have a very strong fight in his hands.” Pedro Julio Serrano predicts.

In 2003, Serrano founded the non-profit organization Puerto Rico Para Tod@s (PRPT), which fights for equal rights and the inclusion of the LGBT community and for social justice for all on the island.

“The struggle for social justice is never one that is done unilaterally,we have to confront oppression from every angle because the root of oppression is the same for sexism, racism, homophobia, classicism, for any type of intolerance, it’s the same root. When I created this organization, I wanted to create an organization that fought for everyone, not just for some,and not just for the LGBT community, but for everyone. [Puerto Rico Para Tod@s] has been involved in all the major social justices causes in Puerto Rico like feminism, standing against racism, against xenophobia, standing for the people from the poor communities. We’ve been there with students, teachers, public employees fighting for their retirement funds, we’ve been there, fighting for all, and it’s why we created Puerto Rico Para Tod@s.”

I asked Mr. Serrano if he felt that the organization has been successful with its mission, and on the island overall, to which he agreed wholeheartedly that they’ve had incredible achievements as an organization.

“We were instrumental in the approval of LGBT laws in Puerto Rico, we have been very successful in creating public education campaigns. I even helped with the coming out of Ricky Martin and Orlando Cruz, the first ever openly gay boxer.”

Serrano standing with Cruz at one of his matches

“We have been instrumental in the struggle, and we have created the Jornada Educativa Contra la Homofobia, which is a conference that focuses on educating against homophobia that happens every 2 years, so we’ve been successful on what we stand.And that’s only talking about the LGBT stuff, we’ve also been very involved in many, many struggles that have had a lot of success as well.” Serrano told me with pride.

I discussed with Serrano his most famous achievement- the boycott and eventual cancellation of the infamous gossip WAPA-TV show SuperXclusivo, whose program and hosts (the life-sized puppet La Comay -voiced and puppeteered by Kobbo Santarrosa- and Héctor Travieso) had become a staple in Puerto Rican culture for 13 years. It even gained so much popularity that The Daily Show interviewed the show’s hosts! However, this show was incredibly xenophobic, homophobic and racist during its long run.

“Our organization led the boycott against SuperXclusivo- La Comay’s show- and we took it off the air […] It was something that was very hard fought. People just remember the boycott, which started in December and by January [SuperXclusivo] was off the air, but it was something that really started back in 2006, so it took us many years to get them off the airways. Before the boycott happened, we successfully managed for the first and only time that [Santarrosa] apologized for something he had said wrong, until the end, which was when he called me ‘pato’ (Puerto Rican slur for gay) and he used my HIV condition to try to demean me, and he was also attacking Ricky Martin and saying that his kids would turn out gay because he was gay too. So that was a whole time that he apologized before, at the end of his career when he apologized because of the comments he said against Jose Enrique Gomez Saladin, which a case that brought him down.”

“In 2006 I said something that was sort of prophetic, I said,” Pedro Julio Serrano recalls with a laugh. “The biggest “castigo”, uh, the biggest punishment that Santarrosa would have would be to have an openly gay man take him out of the airwaves, and many years later, it happened that an openly gay man led the fight to get him off the airwaves, so that was his biggest punishment. So you can imagine that I feel very very proud of that accomplishment.”

Along with this achievement, I discussed how school systems in Puerto Rico- both public and private- are giving LGBT students the guidance they need, as I’ve noticed, as a metro-area private student that the LGBT students are almost ignored. Obviously this isn’t an easy process, as a majority of private schools on the island are religiously affiliated. However, Serrano believes that, along with students, principals must be the agents of change.

As a bisexual student at an non-religiously affiliated all-girl’s school, I’ve attempted to create a club for LGBT and straight student inclusion, which sadly has not been allowed. “I hope that that change will happen, and there’s a lot of work to be done.” Pedro Julio Serrano stated. As he mentioned those “agents of change”, I decided to tell Mr. Serrano about the efforts I had done within my school.

“Change will come, you know, it will take some time,But some things, like your effort, that you tried to put in your school shows that the change comes from within, so when more voices like yours stand up for other people and stand in solidarity with the strength of others, then change can happen. So I hope that that seed that you planted will eventually grow something good for LGBT students in your school.” He told me, as I wiped the few tears on my face.

Pedro Julio with Carmen Yulin Cruz (mayor of San Juan) at San Juan’s Mass Gay Wedding after the Supreme Court ruling of Oberfell v. Hodges
People, however,are not perfect, and Pedro Julio Serrano certainly has come under fire for many of his actions. This past August, the Hon. Carmen Yulín Cruz (shown in the picture above with Pedro Julio Serrano), mayor of San Juan, hired Serrano as her Senior Advisor for six months with a monthly salary of $6,000. Many of San Juan’s residents, and members of other municipalities of the island, have voiced their outrage towards Yulin’s outrageous salary when Puerto Rico is currently facing an economic crisis thanks to our government’s gigantic debt. I decided to suck up my nerves and ask him whether he thought the people of Puerto Rico were angry with his salary as a result of our debt crisis, and if the amount he was being paid was too ridiculous.

“Yes. I worked in New York City for 10 years and I’m a internationally-recognized human rights activist, and I say this very humbly, and I have acquired the experience and the skills necessary to transform San Juan into a city that includes everyone. So, I took a paycut and right now I don’t have the benefits that I had while being an employee in New York City, and I made a lot of sacrifices to coming back to Puerto Rico to work for my people. And I’m not complaining, I say this because I love so much San Juan and I love so much Puerto Rico that I was willing to make those sacrifices to come work for the benefit of my people. San Juan is not in debt and it is a city that can have those salaries, and I will do everything in my power to make sure that I make people proud when my work is done in the city of San Juan.”

Besides being possibly the kindest human being I’ve ever talked to,I realized that with every project, protest, and social justice act he does, his passion shines brightly through. It’s clear that Pedro Julio Serrano’s flame for equality and justice will never be extinguished.

Pedro Julio has been selected as one of the 11 most prominent LGBT Latin@s…

Screen Shot 2016-10-04 at 5.37.25 PM.pngBy NBC Out | NBC Latino

From politics to entertainment, LGBTQ Latinos, Latinas and Latinx are making their mark across all industries. In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, NBC OUT is recognizing just some of the many who should be on your radar.

Gabriel Garcia Roman

Photographer Gabriel Garcia Roman Gabriel Garcia Roman

Artist Gabriel Garcia Roman is known for his “Queer Icons” photo series, a collection of beautiful photos of queer and trans people of color with the aim of amplifying their voices.

Marga Gomez

Comedian Marga Gomez Facebook

Comedian Marga Gomez has been representing the LGBTQ community, and her Cuban-Puerto Rican heritage, since the 1980s when she starting making people laugh in comedy clubs in San Francisco. Since then she has regularly toured nationwide.

Shane Ortega

Outfest 2016 Screening Of "The Trans List" - Arrivals
Shane Ortega arrives for the Outfest 2016 Screening of “The Trans List” at Director’s Guild of America on July 16, 2016 in West Hollywood, California. Gabriel Olsen / FilmMagic

Shane Ortega is an activist and a combat veteran. As a very visible transperson in the military, Ortega has long been a voice for his community. He is also one of the individuals highlighted in this year’s documentary “The Trans List.”

Monica Raymund

2016 Winter TCA Portraits
Monica Raymund at the 2016 Winter Television Critics Association press tour on January 13, 2016 in Pasadena, California. Maarten de Boer / Getty Images Portraits

Actress Monica Raymund got her start in television as Maria “Ria” Torres on Fox drama “Lie To Me,” which lasted three seasons. She went on to appear on “The Good Wife” and is currently playing female firefighter Gabriela Dawson on “Chicago Fire.”

Orlando Cruz

Image: Orlando Cruz
Orlando Cruz fights during a boxing match on July 15, 2016 in Kissimmee, Florida. Alex Menendez / Getty Images

In 2012, Puerto Rican boxer Orlando Cruz came out of the closet and became the first to do so while still boxing professionally. He was one of the first athletes inducted into the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame in 2013 and is currently on his way to becoming the first gay boxing champion.

Laith Ashley

Model Laith Ashley walks the runway during the 7th Annual amfAR Inspiration Gala on June 9, 2016 in New York City. Kevin Tachman / Getty Images

Laith Ashley is a rising star in the modeling world and one of the transgender models appearing on Oxygen reality series “Strut.”

Victoria Rodriguez-Roldan

Victoria Rodriguez-Roldan is the justice project director for the National LGBTQ Task Force’s Trans/Gender Non-Conforming Justice Project. Victoria Rodriguez-Roldan

Victoria Rodriguez-Roldan is the Justice Project Director for the National LGBTQ Task Force’s Trans/Gender Conforming Justice Project. Her job involves fighting for the rights of the LGBTQ community and those with disabilities.

Pedro Julio Serrano

Gay Pride Parade in Puerto Rico
Activist Pedro Julio Serrano smiles during the annual Gay Pride Parade on June 02, 2013 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. David Gasser / LatinContent/Getty Images

Pedro Julio Serrano is an HIV+ activist who works fights for the rights of the LGBTQ community in Puerto Rico. He currently serves as a Senior Advisor for the City of San Juan and is the Executive Director of non-profit organization Puerto Rico Para Tod@s.

Rosie Mendez

New York City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez at the Queer Woman and Leadership Panel at the New York LGBT Center. Brian Latimer

Rosie Mendez is a New York-born Puerto Rican woman who currently serves as on the New York City Council. After winning the November 2005 election by a substantial margin, Mendez has been faithfully serving her district ever since. She is also currently on the New York City Council’s LGBT Caucus.

Eliel Cruz

Bisexual activist Eliel Cruz. Joshua Martin

Eliel Cruz is a vocal bisexual activist. His activism also focuses on issues at the intersection of the LGBTQ community and communities of faith.

Isa Noyola

Isa Noyola is the Director of Programs at the Transgender Law Center Isa Noyola

Isa Noyola is a translatina activist who currently serves as the Director of Programs at the Transgender Law Center. Noyola’s main objective is to increase awareness of the conditions transgender people face in immigration facilities.

El amor – incondicional – de una madre…

1507163_10152884115218437_3680151397812684233_n.jpgHoy cumplo 42 años de vida y agradezco – en todo lo que valen – los miles de mensajes, detalles y muestras de amor que he recibido de tod@s ustedes, pero el mensaje que quiero compartir es el de Mami.

No hay nadie mejor que mi Mamá para hacer un recuento de mi vida desde su privilegiada posición. Comparto con ustedes, el amor – incondicional – de una madre:

Hoy, mi hijo Pedro Julio Serrano, cumple 42 años de vida. Una vida plena de alegrías y de tristezas. Una vida llena de logros, de sacrificios y de bienandanzas.

Nació prematuro y su estómago no se había desarrollado completamente. Tuvo cuidados médicos constantes y su dieta era una especial.

Llegó a los 12 años y volvieron las dificultades médicas, esta vez su corazón. Luego de visitar más de una docena de médicos y muchos episodios de dolor y desmayos nos fuimos para el Texas Children Hospital donde lo diagnosticaron con un prolapso de la válvula mitral.

A pesar de que su niñez y adolescencia estuvo llena de médicos y tratamientos, no lo detuvieron en tener excelencia académica y desarrollar el liderato en su escuela y entorno.

Cuando estaba llegando a sus años de adultez, su vida tuvo un giro y con una valentía inimaginable e impresionante enfrentó su realidad homosexual y a la vez su diagnóstico de VIH.

El cáncer hizo su entrada y también se le enfrentó con valentía. El corazón hizo de las suyas también siendo adulto y más pudo la fuerza de su amor.

Años difíciles para él y para todos nosotros. Años de lágrimas. Años de angustias. Años de aceptación. Años llenos de amor incondicional.

Su lucha no inició con la lucha de la comunidad LGBTT. Su lucha inició cuando apenas tenía 13 años organizando una marcha contra las drogas, la cual fue reseñada por todos los medios de comunicación de Puerto Rico.

Su lucha siempre ha sido por los derechos humanos de todos los que vivimos en esta bella isla. Su lucha es conocida, reconocida y envidiada. Su lucha es la lucha de muchos. Su lucha es la voz de aquellos que no tienen voz.

Hijo mío, no te distraigas con aquellos que sólo saben emanar odio, envidia y cinismo. Tú has ganado todas tus batallas con esperanza, con valentía, con amor incondicional e inquebrantable.

Tu familia inmediata y tu familia extendida – tus amigos y seguidores – sólo sabemos respaldarte, respetarte y amarte.

Sabemos llorar y enfrentar el temor por tu salud y tu seguridad física. Sabemos abrazarte y llenarte de paz y amor. Sabemos caminar a tu lado mirando de frente con orgullo. Sabemos que nunca darás un paso para atrás. Sabemos que siempre estaremos presente en tu vida como escudos contra aquellos que solo saben del odio y no saben ni sienten el amor.

Hoy celebramos con orgullo tu vida de lucha, valor y amor. ¡Feliz cumpleaños! ¡TE AMO HASTA EL INFINITO!