Last weekend I attended the annual Queens Pride Parade. I wasn't planning on it, but a friend was visiting from Venezuela and wanted me to take him.
As it turns out, it was quite alright, considering the wonderful weather and the increased participation of community groups at the parade (a surprise since participation had dropped consistently over the last few years).
Eventually, I ran into a few other friends and ended up at Friend's Tavern. It was so crowded that we never made it to the back patio this year. But, back in 2006, that's where I ran into my friend Carlos Arboleda for one last time (see photo above, right).
Carlos was a comrade in arms. A gay man born in Colombia, like me, who worked in the HIV prevention field, like me, and who, along with former buddy Daniel Castellanos and I, were sometimes referred to as "The Colombian Mafia". Over the last two decades, Carlos worked for a number of leading HIV prevention organizations and institutions including Gay Men's Health Crisis, the National Minority AIDS Council, the National Development and Research Institutes, the National Community Research Initiative of America, and POZ Magazine, among others, and was one of a long list of unsung Latino gay leaders in the fight against AIDS.
By the summer of 2006, though, I had lost touch with Carlos, which is why I was so glad to bump into him at Queens Pride in 2006. Unfortunately it would be the last time I saw him. In late April I received word that Carlos had passed away which was confirmed by a notice sent out by NMAC and, later, POZ. I also missed a memorial ceremony held at GMHC on May 26th, which I regret, but the one true thing remains: Carlos is gone and he leaves a silent legacy behind.
His friends and family have created an online memorial and, if you only found out that Carlos had passed away recently, I am sure they would appreciate you leaving a message on the site.
To do so visit this site which also has additional photos of Carlos provided by his friends.
A wonderful person and one of the three Colombian musketeers, he will be missed. Love you, Carlos. Rest in peace.