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Wilson Cruz Shares Harrowing Story About Losing Aunt In Orlando Attack

by Derek de Koff September 16, 2016


The GLAAD Gala took place in San Francisco on September 8th, and one of its most memorable moments when actor Wilson Cruz took the stage to address the 500 guests in attendance.  “This city has seen so much loss through our history,” he said, and it’s not lost on me.”

Related: Wilson Cruz Still Cries When Remembering The Impact His ‘My So-Called Life’ Character Had On Gay Kids

During his subsequent 15-minute speech, Cruz related a highly personal story about losing his aunt, Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, in the Orlando massacre.  She was at the club to support her son Isaiah on Latin night, and died while shielding her son from the gunfire that ultimately killed 49 people and wounded 53 more.

“On June 12, I woke up that morning like many of you, I looked at my phone, and there it was,” Cruz said. “The horrific news of a massacre in Orlando at Latin Night, at Pulse.”

My phone rang and it was my mom calling to tell me that Izaya’s mom Brenda, my aunt, was shot and killed that night. She’d seen the man enter the club with his gun, and she shielded Izaya with her body, and she did what she said she would do: she protected her cub and sacrificed her life for her son.

We lost 49 people that one Sunday morning, that bloody Sunday morning. 49 individuals with their own stories. My family’s heart was broken. My heart was broken.”


Derek de Koff
Derek de Koff


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