Mysterious Death of LGBT Icon Rattles Queens Hispanic Community

The colorful dresses and green beard were only part of Ms. Colombia’s extravagant personality. (Photo via El Diario)

More than 24 hours after the New York Police Department (NYPD) announced that they had found the lifeless body of Osvaldo Gómez, who was known as “Ms. Colombia” or “La Paisa,” the LGBT community in New York mourned her death as more questions arose regarding her passing.

(…) The NYPD said on Friday that they are investigating the incident. The police received a 911 call on Wednesday at 3:32 a.m. saying there was an unconscious man lying on the Jacob Riis Park beach (…).

The agents found a naked adult man unconscious without identification. There were no visible signs of trauma. Paramedics arrived at the location, but Gómez was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) is now in charge of determining the cause of death. (…)

In the streets of Queens, where Gómez’s colorful clothes and cheerful smile brought joy to every festival held in this multicultural area of the Big Apple, the void left by one of its most beloved characters can be felt.

(…)

“It is devastating. Devastating,” stressed Daniel Puerto, a renowned activist from Jackson Heights. “We are all sharing experiences and unique encounters we had with her. So many of us were lucky to meet her.”

Puerto, a Colombian immigrant like Ms. Colombia, said that Gómez had become his friend at a decisive moment in his growth as an LGBT community activist, adding that she had great impact among youths who have grown up in Queens.

“I started to see her more frequently at a time when my mother was extremely anti-gay toward me. When those moments of verbal abuse on her part came, her reference was Ms. Colombia,” said the young activist. “She would say: ‘Today, I saw Ms. Colombia, and she was wearing this or that,’ and, to me, that was such a subtle thing, but also through her my mom was able to recognize that I was part of the LGBT community.”

One of the first people to confirm the news of Gómez’s death was Council member Daniel Dromm, who organized a vigil on Friday in front of the Jackson Heights post office building between 78th and 79th streets to commemorate Gómez’s legacy.

“Ms. Colombia was an iconic figure for the LGBT community and beyond,” said Dromm. “She was beloved by all who saw her in the streets, at parades and in the neighborhood wearing her colorful outfits and a bird on her shoulder.” (…)

“Ms. Colombia brought life and character to Jackson Heights. This city is a little less colorful and a little less brilliant without her here,” said Council member Francisco Moya. “Ms. Colombia knew who she was and had the courage to be exactly that, every day. We should all be so brave.”

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