5 posts

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jennifer López Record Song for Somos Orlando

JLo and Lin-Manuel
Jennifer López and Lin-Manuel Miranda recorded the song “Love Make the World Go Round” to benefit Somos Orlando. /Lin-Manuel Miranda-Twitter

Somos Orlando, the ad hoc Latino group that popped up in the aftermath of the Pulse shooting to provide translation, mental health and other counseling services to survivors and victims’ families, is getting a boost from Broadway sensation Lin-Manuel Miranda and superstar Jennifer López.

“I have a treat for you at noon,” Miranda wrote on Facebook on the morning of July 4. “A taste of some new music you don’t need tickets to hear.”

On noon Tuesday the duo will release a behind-the-scenes video of the recording of the song, titled “Love Make the World Go Round.” Catch a preview here:

“Sooo @JLo & yours truly went in on a tune that will benefit [Somos Orlando] here’s a taste!” Miranda added about three hours later Monday on Facebook. This is Miranda’s last week as part of  the musical cast of the hit Hamilton, which broke Broadway show records with 16 Tony nominations, winning 11.

Proceeds from the song will benefit Somos Orlando, which is still in its infancy and is officially organizing to provide help to the Hispanic community on a long-term basis.  Somos Orlando logo

Nancy Rosado, a Somos Orlando founder, worries that Orlando leaders may be concerned only with the short-term effects of the shooting. As a retired New York City Police Department seargant who is also a social worker, Rosado provided counseling services to 1,200 police officers directly involved in the rescue efforts of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City.

She thinks a year or two or seven from now will be just as crucial to helping Pulse families thrive after the shooting.

“There is no timetable for this,” Rosado said, referring to the psychological trauma.

Rosado is one of five Latinas who came together almost like a flock of birds on June 12, the day of the Pulse shooting, to find out how they could help. Other Latinas include Zoe Colón of the Hispanic Federation, a New York based nonprofit that has a Central Florida office; Denisse Centeno Lamas, founder and executive director of Hispanic Family Counseling; Sami Haimán Marrero of Urbander, a marketing firm; Christina Hernández, a political and communications consultant.

They have volunteered hundreds of hours of their time to the Pulse families. The Hispanic Federation donated $10,000 in seed money to Somos Orlando and is administrating the fund. The Hispanic Federation received a 4 Star rating from Charity Navigator as of June 1, 2016.

Somos Orlando is holding a community meeting Tuesday, July 5, at 9:30 a.m. at Acacia Building (formerly Asociación Borinqueña) off Econlockhatchee Trail in east Orange County. The public is welcome.

˜˜Maria Padilla, Editor

A Message to Orlando Latino Readers

A memorial honoring the Pulse nightclub shooting victims at the Dr. Phillips center in Downtown Orlando./ Maria Padilla

I want to thank Orlando Latino readers for their mostly loving reaction to the story about the dad who did not want to claim his son, a casualty of the Pulse nightclub shooting.

This post has reached nearly 20,000 people and has been shared over 200 times. I never expected it to go viral. I intended only to draw attention to the social and moral attitudes regarding LGBT people and same-sex marriage still prevalent in Spanish-speaking countries, including Puerto Rico.

But I get  that the father’s rejection – even in death – struck a nerve with many of you, as it did with me. Many readers have shown an amazing sense of generosity, decency and spirit in their desire to claim or bury the victim. Thank you.

I cannot share any more details about the victim because I do not wish to divulge additional identifying details. I do not wish to cause this family any more pain. For surely you must know the family is in pain. Many of you may not agree. Let’s agree to disagree.

Please know, however, that this young man’s body was claimed, as were all the shooting victims. He had friends and other family members who loved him and celebrated his life. He is now resting in peace.

Thank you for reading Orlando Latino.

˜˜Maria Padilla, Editor

Father Refused to Claim Pulse Nightclub Shooting Victim

pr flags at city hall
Puerto Rican flags were planted on the lawn of the Dr. Phillips center in honor of Pulse nightclub shooting victims. /city of Orlando

All the Pulse nightclub shooting victims’ bodies have been released to next of kin. Even the shooter’s body has left the Orange County Medical Examiner’s building off Michigan Avenue, according to information released this week.

“We effectively and efficiently completed the identification, notification and autopsy process within a 72-hour period – a monumental task,” according to an earlier statement by OCME, which worked with the Florida Emergency Mortuary Operations Response System to complete the gruesome task.

But it was touch and go for one particular shooting victim whose father didn’t want to claim the body. Because the son was gay. Because the father was ashamed. Finally and after much convincing, the body was released to Orlando-area relatives and he has been buried. (Thanks to the commenters on this post for your concern.)

This young man shall remain anonymous so as not to further victimize the deceased, who was Puerto Rican. But Orlando Latino confirmed the information with several sources. The tale is part of the untold stories of the Latino victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre.

Social Conservative

The fact is, Puerto Ricans on the island are socially conservative and oftentimes anti-LGBT. While the U.S. Supreme Court declared that same-sex marriage was constitutional in June 2015, gay marriage didn’t reach Puerto Rico until April 2016 – 10 months after the highest court’s ruling – because a San Juan district court said the Supreme Court’s decision didn’t apply to Puerto Rico.

“The district court’s ruling errs in so many respects that it is hard to know where to begin,” wrote the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston in slapping down Puerto Rico’s claim.

But the local court didn’t “err” in reflecting the island’s social conservatism, an attitude it shares with many other Spanish-speaking pew gay pollcountries.

In Puerto Rico, 72 percent of Protestants oppose same-sex marriage, according to a 2014 Pew Research Center study of social and moral issues in Latin America. Among island Catholics opposition was significantly lower –  45 percent. Puerto Rico is about evenly split between Protestants and Catholics. Overall, about 55 percent of islanders oppose same-sex marriage.

 The highest opposition – over 80 percent – is in the Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Meanwhile, Uruguay scored the lowest, 31 percent opposition, which is even lower than the 34 percent of U.S. Hispanics who do not support gay marriage, according to the study.


Support for same-sex marriage is higher among younger generations. About   48 percent of the 18 to 34 year olds in Puerto Rico favor it, a figure that drops to 26 percent for people over age 35.

The pain of being Puerto Rican and gay is real. In the island’s macho culture (relative to the states), anti-gay bias is not subtle and has reached the highest levels of government.

Bias None too Subtle

In 2009, Puerto Rico’s Senate president alleged during a radio interview that a fellow senator was like  “el petardo que no explota” or like a firecracker that doesn’t explode, insinuating he was gay. The statement was denounced by pro LGBT groups.

Perhaps this why it took pop star Ricky Martin a while before declaring his sexual orientation. He is now the most famous gay Puerto Rican and no doubt his coming out in 2010 helped many others to do the same. In Puerto Rico, everybody loves Ricky Martin – he is famous, wealthy, good looking and more.

But nobody knew the Orlando shooting victim. No coming out on Oprah for him. And the victim’s family – or at least his father –didn’t accept the son’s sexual orientation, adding further insult to the sad and sensational circumstances of his death.

Patron Saints Say ‘Presente’ at Victims’ Memorials


An altar to la Virgen de Guadalupe at the impromptu shooting victims’ memorials at the Dr. Phillips center in Downtown Orlando./ Maria Padilla

Under a  Sunday cloudy, gray sky and a drizzle of rain, visitors walked among the impromptu Pulse nightclub victims’ memorials at the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center in Downtown Orlando.

Exactly a week after the massacre took place, visitors took in the shrines in silence: photos of the victims, teddy bears, tons of flowers, a bottle of white wine (with cork), a white sofa with dedications and signatures, balloons, signs and a wet Bible opened to the pages of Malachi, which is the last book of the Old Testament.

Dozens of American flags stood upright in the rain. Many more Rainbow LGBT flags flew all around. And one large Mexican flag lay on the ground at one memorial. All apropos of the facts that have come to light about the victims.

Puerto Rican Flag

The Mexican flag was the only ethnic flag placed at a memorial. /Maria Padilla

It seemed odd, then, that no Puerto Rican flags were visible since so many of the victims were Puerto Rican. It’s a well-known fact that Puerto Ricans carry their red-white-and-blue-with-a-single-white-star-on-blue-background everywhere. And I mean Everywhere.  Why no bonita bandera here, of all places?

Because so many of the victims were Latino – at least 36 of the 49 victims have Hispanic surnames or 73 percent – the memorials have a distinctly Hispanic symbolic  flavor. But you have to know what to look for.

Virgen de Guadalupe

I saw dozens of  candles that mamá or abuela would buy in the botánica to pay respects and say prayer directly to their favorite or patron saint. These were no ordinary tea candles or tea lights. These were candles in familiar long glass containers that represent something deep in panHispanic culture, for it is through the patron saints that Latinos speak to God. And each Spanish-speaking country has a patron virgin or saint. Puerto Rico’s, for instance, is the Virgen de la Providencia and/or San Juan Bautista (St. John the Baptist).

The Virgen de Guadalupe was heavily represented among the memorials. She is the patron saint of Mexico but, really, the Virgin of the Americas and therefore all Latinos. At the shrine to the Virgen de Guadalupe in Mexico City worshippers walk to the cathedral on their knees in fulfillment of a promise. An amazing sight to see.

Hispanics pray to God through their patron saints. / Maria Padilla

Also presente is San Judas Tadeo (Judas Thaddeus), a disciple of Christ who is appealed to in desperate and difficult times – or sometimes so that situations do not get worse. This saint also is a Mexican favorite.

Another common candle is Angel de la Guarda or Guardian Angel, whose prayer reads:

“Guardian Angel, sweet company, do not leave me neither night or day. Do not leave me alone for I would be lost. Neither live nor die in mortal sin. Jesus in life, Jesus in death, Jesus forever. Amen.”

Other Patron Saints

Below are the names and significance of other candles of patron saints spotted at the Dr. Phillips center victims’  memorials. Which ones did you notice?

• Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre – the patron saint of Cuba.

• Virgen de la Milagrosa – dates to the Sisters of Charity of France.

• Nuestra Señora de San Juan de los Lagos – patron saint venerated by Mexicans and Texans.

• Sagrado Corazón de Jesús – represents Jesus’ heart and His divine love for humanity.

• San Martín de Caballero – St. Martin of Tours, a Roman soldier who turned in his armor to do battle in the form of acts of love and charity.

• Oración del Señor – The Lord’s Prayer

• Oración de Justo Juez – Prayer to a Just Judge: Hear my pleas and petitions, bless me in all my anguish and afflictions.

• San Miguel Arcángel –  St. Michael the Archangel led God’s armies against Satan’s forces.

˜˜Maria Padilla, Editor