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Pulse Survivor on MTV’s True Life: ‘No Better Medicine than Love’

Pulse Survivor on MTV’s True Life: ‘No Better Medicine than Love’

Tony MTV True Life
Courtesy of MTV

Tony Marrero describes his recovery in the tribute episode to the victims of the shooting.

Tears well up in Tony Marrero's eyes as his friend takes gauze off his arm.

Underneath the bandages, three gunshot wounds slowly heal. His friend cleans the wounds while Marrero looks away.

"What happened to me--to us--was a horrible tragedy," he says. "But you find it in your heart somewhere to keep going."

Marrero is a survivor of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida. He's calling Out after a doctor's appointment to talk about his appearance on MTV's True Life: Orlando--a special episode dedicated to the 49 killed and 53 wounded in the attack on the LGBT nightclub two months ago.

"The reason why I decided to do the episode is I saw a lot of people struggling with how to handle this," he says. "People need to see our struggle from the beginning and how we keep going no matter what."

Marrero suffered four gunshots in all--three to his arm, one to his back. He was at Pulse with his friend and co-worker, Luis Vielma, who died during the attack.

"After we met, we were instantly brothers," Marrero says. "He was such a kind person. You just mention his name, and people have nothing but great things to say about him."

During the episode, Marrero returns to Pulse to see the memorial and confront his grief over losing his friend.

"I wanted to pay respect for the ones who didn't make it--for my best friend that I lost that night," he says. "It's all about trying to move forward. While I was there, I could feel flashbacks to that night. But I focused on the memorial with all the crosses and flowers, and I knew I wasn't alone. There was a whole community, a whole world right behind us. There's no better medicine than love."

He also meets Angel, a fellow survivor, who recently took his first steps since he was injured.

"We keep in contact every day," he says. "No one can understand you better. We're all going through the same thing, but we're coping in different ways. We're connected for life, even if we don't know each other."

Despite his physical injuries and trauma, Marrero has not lost confidence in his recovery or in the power of the LGBT community to rally together.

"There's good people and bad people in the world," he says. "And there's always more good than bad. There is always more compassionate people out there."

True Life: Orlando airs Monday, Aug. 15, at 8 p.m. Eastern on MTV.

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