identity

Remembering The Victims Of The Orlando Shooting, Many Of Whom Were Latino

On early Sunday morning, 49 people were killed and countless more injured when a gunman armed with an AR-15 and a pistol opened fire at Pulse, a gay night club in Orlando, Flo. The attack on the was the deadliest mass shooting in American history, and it fell on the club’s Latin Night. At least 32 of the people killed were Latino and young, the very same individuals who comprise our readership. These were our brothers and sisters. mitú stands in solidarity with the victims, their families, and the entire LGBTQ community.

Below we’ve compiled profiles on those that have been lost. It’s by no means complete, and we’ll be updating as more information comes to light.

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old

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Credit: Edward SotoMayor/Facebook

“He was always part of the fun,” David Sotomayor, who identified himself as his cousin, told the Associated Press.

Edward Sotomayor worked for Al and Chuck, a travel agency that catered to the LGBTQ community. His cousin told the AP that Edward was a charismatic and caring man.


Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old

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Credit: Stanley Almodovar III/Facebook

Stanley Almodovar III was “an amazing with a good soul,” according to his aunt, who spoke with the Orlando Sentinel. Almodovar III was a pharmacy technician working towards completing his degree in pharmacy.

Prior to Saturday night’s horrific events, Almodovar had posted a Snapchat video of himself singing and laughing. “I wish I had that (video) to remember him forever,” Rosalie Ramos, his mother, told the local paper.


Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old

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Credit: Omar Capo/Facebook

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo lived in Cleveland but was visiting family in Orlando. Ocasio-Capo was a dancer who was coming into his own as an adult, according to his cousin, Leonarda Flores, who spoke to Fusion.

“[He] did not care, he loved himself and he loved others,” Flores told the news outlet, referencing the homophobia Ocasio-Ocampo experienced. “He was very open, he lived who he was. He knew he was beautiful, he knew it and he flaunted it.”


Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old

A photo posted by Juan Guerrero (@juang0628) on

Credit: Juang0628/Instagram

“He was always this amazing person (and) and he was like a big brother to me,” Robert Guerrero, his cousin, told the Associated Press. “He was never the type to go out to parties, would rather stay home and care for his niece and nephew.”

Juan Ramon Guerrero worked as a telemarketer but had enrolled at the University of Central Florida; he wasn’t sure what he wanted to study but was glad to be enrolled in school.

Guerrero came out to his family earlier this year. According to his cousin, his family was “very accepting. As long as he was happy, they were okay with it.”

Guerrero’s boyfriend, Christopher Andrew Leinonen, was also among the victims.


Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old

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Credit: Provincetown Magazine/Facebook

Christopher Andrew Leinonen was originally from Detroit but moved to the Orlando area in the last year. His boyfriend, Juan Ramon Guerrero, was also one of the victims. He was the son of Christine Leinonen, the mother who spoke to various media outlets in tears wanting to know what had happened to her son.

According to ABC News, Christopher Andrew Leinonen established a gay-straight alliance at his high school, for which he was given a humanitarian award.


Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old

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Credit: Eric Ortiz/Facebook

“He was very artistic,” Orlando Gonzalez, his cousin, told the New York Times.

Described as “a goofball,” Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera was originally from Puerto Rico and is survived by his husband.”His husband called me in the morning,” Gonzalez said. “He was hysterical trying to find him.”


Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old

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Credit: Peter Ommy/Facebook

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz was called “Peter Ommy” by his friends and family, and that’s how he identified as on Facebook. Prior to his tragic death, Gonzalez-Cruz worked for UPS and had lived some time in Africa.


Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old

Credit: @jk_rowling/Twitter

“He was always a friend you could call,” Josh Boesch, who worked with Vielma at Universal Studios, told the Orlando Sentinel. “He was always open and available.”

“Every interaction with guest, he had a smile on his face and always goofy and cheerful. Fun guy to be around,” Linnette Martinez, another co-worker of Vielma’s, told mitú. She describes him as “very sweet and fun.”

The 22-year-old was an attraction operator in the Harry Potter section of the park. Upon learning of his death, Harry Potter author JK Rowling tweeted her condolences, seen above.


Kimberly Morris, 37 years old

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Credit: KJ Morris/Facebook

“She was such a great person and so full of life,” Starr Shelton, an ex-girlfriend, recounted to the Orlando Sentinel. ” I can truly say heaven has gained an angel.

Morris, who went by KJ, had recently moved to Orlando from Hawaii. She was a bouncer at the club.

“She was just the sweetest person,” added Narvell Benning, a college friend. “I can’t think of a time when I did not see a smile on her face. I’m so thankful for the good memories I have of her. This is just unreal.”


Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old

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Credit: GoFundMe

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice worked as an accountant in Orlando. He texted his mother, Mina Justice, as the act of terror was taking place.
“Mommy I love you,” he texted.

The two communicated intermittently until he stopped responding. Mina Justice would eventually get news that her son was among the victims.

“Going To Try &Get Some Rest. Please Keep The Prayers Coming,” Mina Justice wrote on Facebook, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “The Prayers Of The Righteous Availeth Much. We Will Get Through This Tragedy . One Day At A Time. Sleep Tight Eddie , Mommy Loves You Son.”

A GoFundMe page was set up in honor of Justice.


Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old

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Credit: Jacksonville Jaycees/Facebook

Darryl Roman Burt II (second from left in picture above) was a financial aid officer at Keiser University in Jacksonville, Flo., who was working towards his master’s degree. According to people who knew him, he was a positive individual whose optimism rubbed off on others.

“He always had a smile on his face and was a very nice guy,” Lisamarie Winslow, president of KU’s Jacksonville Campus told the Florida Times-Union. “He definitely leaves an impression and had a big personality and he is missed.”


Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old

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Credit: Patricia Drayton Banks/Facebook

Deonka Deidra Drayton, or DeeDee, was working at Pulse when she was killed, according to a woman claiming to be her aunt on Facebook. It’s unclear whether Drayton was an actual Pulse employee.

“While keeping the others in Orlando in prayer, keep my brother, his wife and both our families in your prayers,” Patricia Drayton Banks wrote on her Facebook page. “My neice, Deonka “Dee Dee” Drayton was killed in this horrible tragedy. Senseless. She was at work !!!. ??????. R.I.P Dee Dee. You know this Auntie will miss you.??✌✌????”


Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, 25 years old

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Credit: Lucas Daniel Acosta D’Oleo/Facebook

Laureano, originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, was known and beloved in Orlando for his drag persona, Alanis Laurell. In a Reddit thread dedicated to Laureano’s gorgeous drag performances, one commenter bid him good-bye with, “Go make the heavens beautiful.”

Here’s Laureano, as Alanis, performing at Miami’s Azucar nightclub:

Credit: Christopher Morales/YouTube

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old

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Credit: Naej Mendez/Facebook

Jean Carlos and his partner Luis Daniel, known to friends as Danny, died together at Pulse. Jean, who was originally from Puerto Rico, is remembered as being a happy, warm, funny person who loved his job at Perfumania, where he met and fell in love with Danny.


Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old

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Credit: Lestat Wilson/Facebook

Jean’s partner, Danny, was also originally from Puerto Rico, and is remembered by friends as a “protector, confidant and hero.” Growing up in a small town, Danny is remembered as always marching to the beat of his own drum, and was bullied as a result, but that didn’t stop him into growing up into a compassionate and much-loved person.


Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old

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Credit: Jimmy Dejesus/Facebook

Originally from Puerto Rico, Dejesus was a professional Jîbaro dancer whose Facebook presence was positive and inspiring, filled with motivational sayings and pictures of his loved ones.


Amanda Alvear, 25 years old

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Credit: Amanda Alvear/Facebook

Amanda was dancing at Pulse with her best friend Mercedez, who also died during the attack. She had been recording herself dancing on Snapchat when the shots first rang out. Her sister, Ashley, shared her heartbreak on Facebook.


Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old

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Credit: Mercedez Florez/Facebook

Mercedez, who died alongside Amanda, has a GoFundMe page set up by loved ones to help her family. Mourners there remember her as a “bright star.”


Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old

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Credit: Martin B’Nitez/Facebook

Martin’s Facebook page is filled with pictures of his friends and his life in Orlando. Originally from Puerto Rico, Martin’s Facebook bio described him as a “fighter” who aimed to soar.

Con la family en Orlando

Posted by Martin B’nitez on Saturday, June 11, 2016

Credit: Martin B’nitez/Facebook

Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old

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Credit: Xavier E. Serrano/Facebook

Xavier was a dancer who worked at Disney Live! and performed at the annual Atlanta Bachata Fest.

According to Buzzfeed, he is remembered by Splash Bar, an old employer, as always happy to help those around him.

“He took his time to work with Flagpole, Grant, Vadim and some of the other dancers to improve their moves and was quick with a smile,” they reported.

Others took to social media to lament his passing.

“I writhed in bed for hours in my head wrapped in all of this,” friend Matt Molandes said, according to Buzzfeed. “Sleep was nearly impossible and waking up to the news that Xavier E. Serrano has passed, it’s soul crushing. My heart aches for his family and Wilma Lozano and their beautiful baby boy. I’m am so happy you are no longer in pain, but this entire world feels the impact of you not being here. Look over us, watch over us, we live in your name.”

He is survived by a young son.


Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old

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Credit: Miguel Honorato/Facebook

Miguel’s brother, Enrique, took to Facebook to reminisce about their trips to Mexico and to Tennessee, noting that Miguel loved mango lemonades from Auntie Anne’s.

R.I.P Brother Miguel Honorato, man i wouldve never thought this would happen to you… I remember the good old times…

Posted by Enrique Ezequiel Honorato on Monday, June 13, 2016

Credit:Enrique Ezeguiel Honorato/Facebook

Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old

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Credit: Jackiii Rios/Facebook

Brooklyn native Enrique is survived by his mother and five siblings. His mother shared that Enrique had been in Orlando for vacation and has set up a GoFundMe page to help with transportation and funeral costs.

The 25-year-old was on vacation in Orlando. He studied social work at St. Francis College and was working at True Care Home Health Care Agency at the time of his untimely passing.


Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old

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Credit: Juan P. Rivera/Facebook

Originally from Puerto Rico, Juan owned a spa and salon in Kissimmee, Florida.

“It is very hard to deal with this and the worse pain is the pain of being here without knowing what happened to him,” Baron Serrano, his brother, told the New York Times as he waited at the hospital to find out what had happened to Juan.


Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old

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Credit: Silva Gilbert/Facebook

Originally from Manati, Puerto Rico, Gilberto had come to Orlando to pursue his studies in healthcare management. He was at Pulse with his friend, “Peter Ommy” Cruz, who was also killed during the shooting.


Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old

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Credit: Harvey George King/Facebook

A supervisor at Gucci, Javier is remembered by his close friend as having a contagious smile and “making me feel like a beautiful woman and mother even on days I couldn’t see it.”

Today I woke up to the news I spent all night hoping not to hear! An old and dear friend lost his precious life in the…

Posted by Ellen Taaffe on Monday, June 13, 2016

Javier had studied tourism at the Academia San Antonio de Guayama in Puerto Rico. A co-worker took to Facebook to thank Javier for his humor and “for all the talks and advice on pursuing my passion.”


Cory James Connell, 21 years old

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Credit: Cory Connell/Facebook

Cory was studying Sports Journalism and Broadcasting at Valencia Community College, and is described by family members as a “superhero.” His family has taken to his Facebook page to express their sense of loss and how much he meant to them.

Cory Connell im doing my best to be as strong as i can man. But being here without you man. Its tough. I can you feel…

Posted by Ryan Connell on Monday, June 13, 2016

Credit: Ryan Connell/Facebook

Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old

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Credit: Joseph Bebe/Facebook

One of the youngest casualties from the shooting, Jason called his mother as shots rang out. Jason was a student at Valencia College, studying computer science.

He was still figuring who he was, and prior to his passing, he’d started developing new passions

“He mentioned to me that he wanted to start taking pictures, he had a passion for photography,” Christopher Long, his uncle, told the Orlando Sentinel. “He was just real special.”

On Facebook, he tended to express self-love and positivity.

i love myself so much right now i really really do ??????

Posted by Jason Bebe on Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Credit: Jason Bebe/Facebook

Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old

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Credit: Jonathan A. Camuy/Facebook

Jonathan, who had moved from Puerto Rico to Miami, worked on the Telemundo show “La Voz Kids.” He was a proud member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

On Monday, Telemundo tweeted their condolences.

Credit: TelemundoNews/Twitter

Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old

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Credit: Shane Tomlinson/Facebook

A graduate of East Carolina University, Shane managed and sang in the Orlando-based Frequency Band. His Facebook bio describes him as an “ordinary guy living an extra-ordinary life using my God-given gift to navigate through this journey.”

Here is Shane performing with his band:

A little snippet from our shoot last night.

Thank You All ?

Posted by Frequency Band on Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Credit: Frequency Band/Facebook

Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old

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Credit: Tevin Crosby/Facebook

Though young, Michigan native Tevin owned his own business. His brother Chavis described him as “very ambitious,” telling the Orlando Sentinel that “[w]hatever goal he had in mind, he worked hard. Whether alone or on a team, he worked on that goal.”

Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26 years old

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Credit: Oscar Aracena/Facebook

Oscar’s cousin remembered him on Facebook as being a humble and inspiring young man who will be missed dearily. Oscar was at Pulse with his partner Simon, and the two were remembered by a mutual friend who shared that she will miss “the arepas you made for me with so much love, our conversations” and the advice that they shared.

Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old

Simon, who lost his life alongside Oscar, leaves behind a Facebook page that offers a portrait of a young man who loved the beach and who adored and was adored by his family and friends. According to a friend’s post, Simon and Oscar had recently found a home together. Another friend posted that their passing has taken a huge toll, calling them both “princes” and promising that they’d never be forgotten.

Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old

Brenda was a mother of 12 who had beat cancer not once, but twice. She was at Pulse with her son, who survived the shooting. The Orlando Sentinel reports that, that night, Brenda had been sharing videos from the club on Facebook, showing happy couples dancing to Latin music.

Our hearts are with you, Orlando. Don’t forget to click share.

‘Fuller House’ Actor And Certified Daddy Juan Pablo Di Pace Comes Out And Yasss

Culture

‘Fuller House’ Actor And Certified Daddy Juan Pablo Di Pace Comes Out And Yasss

juanpablodipace / Instagram

Argentinian actor Juan Pablo Di Pace recently came out in a TEDx video recorded in March. The video was released in late June giving Di Pace’s coming out story a special place in the 2019 Pride Month calendar. Social media erupted in applause and praise for the actor living his truth after so much time hiding in the closet.

Juan Pablo Di Pace came out of the closet as a gay man and is already living it up.

That’s right. Di Pace was living it up in Madrid during pride not long after the video of his talk coming out of the closet was publish. Honestly, it is something everyone should be celebrating. Someone being able to live their life fully is something that some people will never be able to understand. There is an attitude of in the Latino community that tries to shun and silence the LGBTQ+ community. Seeing a prominent member of the Latino community sharing his coming out story is such a positive example for younger people struggling to come out.

Di Pace’s coming out via a TEDx is one of the greatest moments of Pride Month 2019.

Not only did Di Pace come out of the closet, but his story about coming out and learning who he is is also very relatable to most members of the LGBTQ+ community. It wasn’t like he figured out that he was different. It had to be told to him.

“My mother says that I came out of her womb with a paper and pencil in my hand and that I used to draw until I fell asleep, which is why I had very few friends. But, actually, the truth is that, unlike most of the boys in my class, I preferred to play with girls. I was more comfortable. They were more fun,” Di Pace told the audience at his TEDx talk. “So, I didn’t think anything of it, right? Until I heard a word that I had never heard before. It started like a thunder that got closer and louder to me as it exploded like egg in my face: marícon, faggot. Well, I didn’t really understand that word at first but the word was here to stay for years. A little know book, as you might know as the Bible, starts with, ‘In the beginning, was the word and the word was made flesh and it dwelt among us.’ So, after failed attempts to fight against this word and try to make friends, my only option was to make friends with white sheets of paper. Paper would not shout or kick me. Paper was kind and on paper everything and anything was possible, just like in the movies.”

The moment of being made to feel and know that you are different from everyone else is something most people deal with at the beginning of coming out. It is a harsh, and some times dangerous, moment that starts the process of coming out and learning who you are as a person.

Fans of the actor showered him with praise and love for coming out.

Credit: judygeitz / Instagram

Coming out, no matter how old you are or how successful you are, is a terrifying experience. You have to be prepared for people to shun you. You need to be ready for people to speak down to you. It is not an easy or fun process for a lot of people.

The emotional reception to Di Pace’s coming is filled with love and appreciation.

Credit: iamlibrado / Instagram

This is something the Di Pace should be so proud of. It is so important for people to come out of the closet. By coming out of the closet, you force others around you to confront their own ideas of the LGBTQ+ community. When people know someone personally who is LGBTQ+, they tend to become more accepting of the community allowing for more people to come out in a safer environment.

You are with your chosen family now, Juan.

Credit: stillwater1979 / Instagram

All people in the LGBTQ+ community understand the importance of a chosen family. Even if your family accepts you, it is important to have a chosen family. It is a way to learn what it means to be gay and how to live life open in a world that can sometimes be really cruel. Your family will want to help but it is hard for your mom and dad to teach about LGBTQ+ culture.

Congratulations on coming out Juan. Sending lots of love.

READ: Grab The Tissues! These Latinas Told Us Their Coming Out Stories And We Have Been Sobbing In Pride

AOC Went To A Drag Show And It Is The Most Beautiful Moment Captured On Social Media

Things That Matter

AOC Went To A Drag Show And It Is The Most Beautiful Moment Captured On Social Media

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a champion of the people and the biggest villain according to Republicans. Whenever AOC does anything, conservatives have a lot to say about it. AOC’s latest outing to a drag club in New York City is the latest moment of celebration.

Alexandria Oscasio-Cortez proves that Pride is not just one month but all year long.

“You are special. You are beautiful. You are accepted and let’s give a big round of applause for our artist,” AOC tells the crowd as they go wild for her.

All the performers who had a chance took their photo with the most recognizable Congresswoman currently serving.

Credit: dirtymartininyc / Instagram

“Activist & politician @ocasio2018 was @bartschlandfolliestonight & we all couldn’t have been more thrilled! I felt ultra #patriotic performing my #patriotact for this special audience that was chanting her initials,” Dirty Martini wrote on Instagram. “Fight that good fight for what this country deep down is really about- equality, liberty & peace! ❤️🇺🇸❤️🇺🇸❤️🇺🇸”

The drag queens and kings could feel themselves becoming more and more patriotic.

Credit: operagaga / Instagram

“Equality and social justice for all with a dash of showgirl❤️
AOC @ocasio2018 in the house at the @bartschlandfollies last night! I admittedly was majorly fan girling!!!! One of the most present and beautiful audiences I’ve experienced to date, they were screaming her initials as she cheered us on front and center all night, even telling us all how much we were loved and welcome and accepted when Joey arias invited her on stage,” Marcy Richardson wrote on Instagram. “And I just thought, man, what a reason to actually feel patriotic this weekend. She’s not afraid to be here with us. ALL of us. You give us all hope❤️❤️
#alexandriaocasiocortez #bartschland #bartschlandfollies #aoc #mckittrickhotel #happyfourth

It’s fair to say that AOC had a great time with the performers and her allyship with the LGBTQ+ community is unquestionable.

Credit: murrayhill / Instagram

“The inspiring and formidable @ocasio2018 attended the @bartschland Follies show @themckittrick last night in NYC. She brought hope to the room and showed us 🇺🇸 future! Her choice words, ‘Be who you are. You are beautiful. You are accepted.’ 🏳️‍🌈,” Murray Hill wrote on Instagram. “In this pix, I’m saying, ‘I’m standing next to a future president!’ The 2nd pix, I’m thanking her for her work, speaking out, and fighting the good fight. #aoc #4thofjuly #resist #showbiz

AOC’s actions since taking office show that she is an unapologetic LGBTQ+ rights activist.

Credit: @AOC / Twitter

The Congresswoman from New York was there for Queens Pride despite a cold that she was battling. She explained that she just couldn’t let her exquisite crushed velvet suit hide during the pride celebrations.

She is here to support the LGBTQ+ community no matter what she is doing, like just attending pride.

Credit: @kalpenn / Twitter

Honestly, just look at how excited she is to be out and about among the LGBTQ+ community at Pride. AOC has set herself apart from other members of Congress with her unapologetic fight for the LGBTQ+ community.

She even made an impassioned speech for LGBTQ+ rights in a post-marriage equality world that has energized the community.

AOC is fighting a fight so many don’t realize needs to be fought. The fight to make PrEP free to the public is one that more people need to get behind. The U.S. taxpayers paid for the research that created Truvada, a daily pill with a 99 percent success rate in preventing the transmission of HIV. Gilead, the pharmaceutical company selling Truvada is selling it back to the people who funded the research at $2,000 a month because of a patent. The price point is forcing many people vulnerable to the disease unprotected and risking lives needlessly.

Oh, and she is a major “RuPaul’s Drag Race” fan so we hope to see her at more drag shows in the future.

Credit: @AOC / Twitter

Thank you for standing up for our community, AOC.

READ: Pabllo Vittar Is The Superstar Brazilian Drag Queen The World Has Come To Love Because Of Their Unapologetic Persona

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