Puerto Rico has unveiled its first LGBT monument, which also serves as a memorial to the 49 victims of the June 12 massacre at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub. Most of the people killed were LGBT and Latino, and almost half the victims were of Puerto Rican descent.
The monument, located in San Juan’s Third Millennium Park, is comprised of seven rectangular columns in rainbow colors, and sits at the entrance to the Sixto Escobar Stadium, reports Spanish-language outlet Noticel. At the base of the monument is a plaque highlighting the names of the 23 Puerto Rican victims killed in the massacre, with the additional 26 victims listed below.
Alongside the names, Spanish text reads:
“This tribute to life strengthens our commitment to fight hate — the product of homophobia — with love and respect. Our slogan resounds in all our hearts: Love is love, is love, is love…”
The final phrase appears to be a reference to Puerto Rican playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda’s speech at the 2016 Tony Awards, just hours after the Pulse shooting, where the straight artist performed a powerful sonnet he had written for the victims of the massacre.
“Today, we celebrate life,” said San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín (pictured at top) in Spanish at the monument’s inauguration during the capital city’s Pride celebration on June 26. “We must work together to eradicate discrimination and homophobia. We must raise our voice for justice, and the equality of each of us who are human. We must aspire to to have a country where everyone is equal, and no one is judged for who they love.”
The monument cost an estimated $9,000, funded by city taxpayers, Noticel reports. It was designed by Alberto de la Cruz.
It was unveiled during the city’s well-attended LGBT Pride celebration, where thousands gathered to march and celebrate — and remember those lost in the Pulse shooting. According to international news agency EFE, Pride participants carried signs that read “We are not whole: 49 of us have been lost,” while others worked photos of the victims into their Pride attire.
The monument’s dedication took place almost exactly one year after a federal judge in Puerto Rico first ruled in favor of marriage equality. Although an anti-equality judge in Puerto Rico tried to halt that ruling, a federal appeals court determined in April that the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which brought marriage equality to all 50 states, was also binding in Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of the United States.
CORRECTION: Due to a translation error, an earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the stadium where the monument sits: It is located outside San Juan's Sixto Escobar Stadium. The cost of the monument was $9,000, not $9 million, as originally indicated. The Advocate regrets these errors.