Human Rights Campaign, Ricky Martin to Speak at Vigil Remembering LGBTQ Lives Lost in Puerto Rico

by Alberto Morales

The virtual vigil will honor the lives of ten LGBTQ people who have been killed in the past 15 months in Puerto Rico.

This Sunday, May 17, Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, will provide remarks at a televised virtual vigil honoring the lives of ten LGBTQ people who have been killed in the past 15 months in Puerto Rico. Other speakers include Ricky Martin, Olga Tañón and Circo. The vigil is being organized by the Broad Committee for the Search of Equity (CABE) and will air on Telemundo, Sunday, May 17 at 10:30 p.m. in commemoration of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. The Americano will co-broadcast the event on their Facebook page.

“Over the last 15 months, Puerto Rico has seen an epidemic of violence against the LGBTQ community,” said HRC President Alphonso David. “Neulisa. Yampi. Serena. Layla. Penélope. These are the names of a few of the precious lives we have lost, this year alone, to hatred and bigotry, exclusion and violence. And while we will hold their names in our hearts and memories, we have a duty to bring an end to the hate that fuels the horrific violence that took them away from us. We must be united in our fight for equality, our fight for justice, and our fight for every member of the LGBTQ community to be treated with dignity and respect.”

“The entire HRC family is heartbroken over the epidemic of murders that has taken away 10 of our chosen family members in Puerto Rico over the past 15 months,” Tori Cooper, director of community engagement for the HRC Transgender Justice Initiative. “Today, in honor of the lives lost, and on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, we recommit ourselves to the fight for policies and protections for all transgender, nonbinary and queer people in Puerto Rico and across the world.”

“Conservative political and religious leaders on the island espouse the sort of rhetoric that emboldens those who would hate and harm LGBTQ people,” Pedro Julio Serrano, spokesperson for the Broad Committee for the Search for Equity (CABE in Spanish). “And while those that hate are very good at being the loudest in a room, today our love for our community, and with respect to those we lost, we will stand tall and let our love take the day. Today, love wins and we hope to inspire those who are with us to take a stand, and inspire more people to join our fight.”

“We have lost 15 of our siblings to a hate that I do not recognize,” Carlos Rodríguez, pastor, author, and founder/director of The Happy Non-Profit. “I know a Puerto Rico filled with people who love across differences. I know a generous Puerto Rico filled with joyous people who are quick to extend a table in order to make room for more people at a meal. Through my work, I have come across countless people of faith who embrace LGBTQ people and condemn the sort of hate that would lead to murder. There are more of us who love than those of us who hate in the religious community on the island. These hateful leaders do not represent us. But, as to the rest of us, we cannot remain silent, not today. Today, we have to rise up and stand for the religious principles of acceptance and justice if we want to help end these killings. If we stay silent, hate wins.”

“The violence we are witnessing in Puerto Rico should break every American’s heart, said Michael Vazquez, director of HRC Foundation’s Religion and Faith Program. “What is happening in Puerto Rico could happen anywhere in America if we allow unchecked anti-LGBTQ religious rhetoric to embolden hate and spread terror. At the core of every religious tradition is an ethic of justice, and as such we are calling upon religious leaders and politicians of faith across Puerto Rico to stand by a moral vision of love, justice, and inclusion, and combat the fundamentalist vitriol that led to the deaths of our trans and gender non-confirming siblings.”