Yesterday saw a turnout of thousands upon thousands of revelers for the Puerto Rican Pride March in San Juan, where locals took special care to remember the 23 Puerto Ricans who died in the shooting at the Pulse nightclub three weeks ago.
Serbella Tejeda, spokesperson for the Boriquen Memorial funeral home, told Fox News Latino, "I lost two friends, two brothers, Martin [Benitez Torres] and Jimmy de Jesus [Velazquez]." Tejeda said the business had offered its funeral services free of charge to the families of the victims.
Tejeda confirmed that gay rights remains a hotly contested issue in the largely conservative and religious island nation, and that while important advances have been made, more work still needs to be done. Ironically, Tejeda feels the massacre helped many people "decide to step forward and end the fear," adding that "we have to be ourselves if we want to move forward as a society."
The Pride procession moved up Avenida Ashford in San Juan until Third Millennium Park, where musical performances took place at this year's 26th Gay Pride event.
Among those marching was noted activist Pedro Julio Serrano, who also spoke to Fox News: "Today we're marching for the 23 Puerto Rican victims [in] Orlando and for all the rest, for the survivors, for their families, for my community...because our hearts are shattered."