Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Pedro Julio Serrano... or haters gonna hate

This morning I woke up to the news that a long time "partner in crime" and one of my best friends had suffered a mild heart attack.

As he usually does these days, Pedro Julio Serrano used social media to let the world know in a message posted this morning at 6 a.m.: "This is what happens when you have too much love - you get a small heart attack and it fills up with so much love. I'll get out of here."
Speaking to Puerto Rico's El Nuevo Dia, Pedro Julio said he was in good spirits and on his way to recovery. "The first 24 hours are crucial, the worst is over, I am better but the shock remains," he said, "I've fought worse battles and I have always won and this won't be the exception."

This weekend Pedro Julio seemed in a great mood as he participated in the Central Park nuptials of out boxer Orlando "El Fénomeno" Cruz and his partner José Manuel Colón. He was their best man at the wedding.

That's because when Cruz began to explore the pros and cons of coming out as a currently active professional boxer he reached out to Pedro Julio for advice in the months leading to taking that historic step.

Similarly, when pop singer Ricky Martin came out in 2010, he said that Pedro Julio's years of visible advocacy on behalf of LGBT Puerto Ricans was one of his inspirations and he personally invited Pedro Julio to his studio to listen to tracks from his yet to be released album "Música + Alma + Sexo."

On November of 2010, the singer presented Pedro Julio with the 2010 Comité Noviembre Puerto Rican Heritage Award.  At the time Ricky said:
You and I are connected in a thousand ways. I give you thanks for being a teacher, for being a mentor, for being a warrior of the light. For being a Puerto Rican of pura cepa who is doing a wonderful job for the Puerto Ricans of today and also for the new generations. I simply do not have the words. You are magical, brother. I love you lots, God bless you. 
The two have remained close friends.

The very public and visible recognition Pedro Julio has received from these stars is built on years of his hard work. I could spend hours listing every one of his achievements from the time I met him fifteen years ago when he worked for the now defunct national Latino organization LLEGO to the work he does currently at NGLTF (One example: His effort to bring to justice the murderers of Jorge Steven López Mercado).

What I have never done is speak of the darker side of that visibility which are the vile attacks and death threats Pedro Julio has received over the years - mostly because Pedro Julio has always told me to ignore it.  But considering he is still in a hospital room recuperating from a heart attack and knowing that the same people are rejoicing and celebrating he almost died I think I have had enough and, apparently, others have as well.

So, with Pedro Julio's permission...

These are momentous times when it comes to LGBT rights in Puerto Rico.

This summer, despite years of vitriolic opposition from conservative religious institutions and years of waiting in the pipelines, Puerto Rican governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla signed a law that prohibits employment discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation and another extending domestic violence protections to same-sex couples.  And, while it took the work of many individuals and organizations to secure their passage, Pedro Julio emerged as the most visible face behind the victory --- and a key target for its opponents.

But what probably still riles up some people the most is the successful boycott campaign against a hugely popular television gossip show called "SuperXClusivo" and its host Kobbo Santa Rosa who used a life sized doll named "La Comay" to spew homophobic insults for years on end.

Again, many people were behind the "Boycott La Comay" campaign but Pedro Julio, as someone who had been repeatedly called a "fag" on the show emerged as the most visible member of the effort. The show was cancelled in January of this year.

To this day, fans of that show use mostly anonymous Twitter accounts to attack Pedro Julio on an almost daily basis. On May of 2013, the FBI arrested one of those men after he sent a death threat against Pedro Julio through a Twitter account.  The man would later apologize to Pedro Julio in court.

Key among these accounts is a specific account that was launched in response to the "Boycott La Comay" campaign simply titled "BoycotPJ" who have made it their mission to rile up Pedro Julio's haters against him and, true to form, they have spent the day making fun of his heart attack this morning.

Particularly vile was a Twitter post rejoicing in the "positive" messages Pedro Julio was receiving with the following jpeg attached:

  • He's faking a mild heart attack, God, take him please so he can help you.
  • You pay sin with death, that is written in the Book, God loves him because he is his son but hates his sin. He already acquired AIDS and God continues to touch him so he repents but he has freely chosen to follow that path in life.
  • Why doesn't that son of a bitch die. Damn faggot.
  • If he dies, it will be one less faggot in Puerto Rico.
You get the point.  And again: This happens almost on a daily basis but today's news has the PJ haters out in full force.

And as a friend you see this stuff and you sit there and know that there is no way it doesn't take a toll on someone.  But Pedro Julio is all "haters gonna hate:"
"I'm too busy getting better, and of course loving others, I do not have time for those who hate. I hope they learn to love."

At least one public figure has also had enough. Puerto Rican Senator Ramon Luís Nieves, who sponsored the employment non-discrimination bill that became law, took to Twitter this morning and also posted the screen gran above writing "Proof of anti-LGBTT hate, wishing the death of Pedro Julio, this in a supposedly christian nation. Disgusting."
And "The expressions of hate against Pedro Julio in light of his heart attack are disgusting. We conquered hate with the law, but we remain to win people's hearts."
"Boycott PJ", of course, has already derided the Senator's comments and questioned if Pedro Julio is faking being ill to get more sympathy.

Sometimes when you give attention to these folks it enables them and provides them a larger platform but the attacks this morning are so despicable that to stay silent would be a crime.

Along with Senator Nieves, Puerto Rican Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, Ricky Martin, Orlando Cruz, singer Ednita Nazario, myself and hundreds of others have already reached out and wished him the best.

So haters gonna hate while Pedro Julio gets some rest but Orlando, Ricky and so many others are standing up and saying "Pedro Julio, we have your back."

In the meantime, a word from Pedro Julio this evening...
"Looking better and with my heart strengthened by all the love you have given me with open hands. Thank you, my people"...


Anonymous said...

Pobres aquellos que critican a pedro julio serrano que aunque no lo conozco en persona me place llamarlo un ser humano digno de seguir. Mientras julio serrano reconozca quien es, ninguno de esos mensajes lo lastimaran. Yo admiro la pobreza mental de aquellos que utilizan su pobre conocimiento para juzgar a otros. Eso demuestra la sensibilidad humana que emana de un corazon podrido. Mientras exista pedro julio serrano existira respeto lealtad y lucha. Deberian tomar un curso de etica antes de escribir sobre un ser humano tan humilde como nuestro orgullo boricua pedro julio serrano.

Unknown said...