On June 12, 2016, 49 lives were stolen at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. It was Latin Night and the majority of those taken and injured were members of Orlando’s LGBTQ Latinx community. Not all of the lives lost that night were queer ones.
Here is a tribute to seven of the women who lost their lives that night in the words of those who knew them best.
Amanda loved fashion, dancing, spreading joy; and her nieces. She was a nursing student at University of South Florida and a pharmacy technician.
Deonka was described as driven, ambitious, a lover of art, and a people person. She survived an accident and a brain injury as a child and was working to make make her life better. Most importantly, she was loved.
Mercedez was outgoing, full of life, friendly, and had a “beautiful smile that would light up a room,” said Kelly George. She was a literature student at Valencia College, a fashionista, and a dedicated aunt to her nieces.
Brenda was a two-time cancer survivor, avid salsa dancer, fighter, and the mother of 11 children. She was with her son, Isaiah Henderson, at Pulse and sacrificed herself so that he would survive.
Avid dancer, celebrated drag king (Daddy K), friend, and Pulse bouncer, Kimberly was just starting her life in Florida. She loved mixed martial arts and was excited to become part of Orlando’s LGBTQ community.
Akyra Monet Murray, 18
“Akyra’s life was short and shining. It shined everywhere she went. It shined in the classroom. It shined in the community. And it shined on the basketball court.” – Pastor Pamela Williams
Friends and family described her as having joy, determination and warmth. This spring she would have finished her freshman year at Mercyhurst University.
Yilmary “Mary” Solivan Rodriguez, 24
“She was the most loving and caring person you could ever meet, her smile lit up the room and her laughter brought a smile to your heart!” – Natalia Canlan, sister
Yilmary is survived by her family, including her two young sons, Jariel and Sergio.