Last year for Pride, I was in San Francisco when they announced that gay marriage was the law of the land and it was the most magical Pride I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying. I woke up the next morning to witness random weddings taking place on the sidewalks of San Francisco. I was not naive. I knew that homophobia still existed, and the events in Orlando this year during Pride tragically reminded us of how much work there is still to do. This year, Pride was more sober.
Today is the one-month anniversary of the Orlando shooting and I’d like to do my part in helping to honor the memory of at least some of those who died by telling their stories. This will also help to make sure that we do not soon forget, as often happens when the victims are LGBT or, in this case, allies of the LGBT community.
Among those killed was Brenda Lee Marquez-McCool. She died a hero, choosing to become a human shield to protect her gay son, who survived, and with whom she was there to dance Latin music. She not only threw herself over the body of her son when the bullets came but also, once wounded, ordered him to run so that her sacrifice would not be in vain.
49-year old Brenda had been an outspoken ally of LGBT people and a mother figure to many in her community in addition to her eleven children. She had also twice survived cancer, which probably helps to explain her short hair, as well as her vigorous desire to live and to enter her fifth decade dancing.
The US has about 5% of the world’s population, yet over 30% of the mass shootings on Earth happen here.