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Life of Orlando massacre victim Eddie Sotomayor of Sarasota to be remembered, celebrated

Eddie Sotomayor was friend to everyone he met.

Those friends, from around the world and in Sarasota, will come together Saturday at Robarts Arena to celebrate his life.

Sotomayor, 34, of Sarasota, was national brand manager for AlandChuck.travel, an LGBT travel agency. He was also one of the 49 victims who lost their lives in the June 12 shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

“It’s the most significant event in our business in 30 years,” said Al Ferguson, Sotomayor’s friend and employer. “It’s quite a challenge, but we’ve accepted our responsibility in terms of trying to make this a positive experience.”

Sotomayor was in Orlando with his partner, Luis Rojas, to launch another gay cruise to Cuba, according to Ferguson.

“One of my favorite things I will always remember is his commitment of wanting to travel and not being fearful to travel,” he said.

Sotomayor received tributes from even those who didn’t know him such as singing star Lady Gaga and Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton.

 

I went into an exercise class this morning. The instructor Loui @louipacheco walked in and asked us with a boisterous tone "How is everyone doing today?!!" The room didn't cheer, there was barely a groan over a thick silence as we all stood there in our trauma. Then Loui shouts "Oh no! It's Tuesday.," with an emphatic hand movement, "Today is going to be a good day." As the music rose to the lyrics "when Im with you, I'm standing with an army" and we all climbed together, sweating out our stress and our thoughts, he yelled "today get stronger! and then stronger! And when your finished here go out there and spread that strength to the world." When the class was over I thanked him, he asked if he could say something to me. I started to instantly tear up. He said "I didn't want to bring it up" I said "of course you should, I'm so sorry." He then told me he was at the rally the night before, where I was also, and that he heard me read the names of some of the Orlando victims. He said "the first name you read was my friend Eddie." I said "Edward." He said "Sotomayor." In this moment I was reminded why it's so important that we protect all people and never doubt the absolute human heart that can always suprise you with its strength and love. Loui, a member of the LGBT community, who just lost his friend in the largest isolated shooting our country has ever seen, still showed up for work early in the morning to make ME feel strong. To empower me and all the other men and women in the class to keep going and get stronger so we could help each other. That's why you should never devalue another human, no matter their wrapping, their heart is just like yours and people you never expect to lift you up, will.

A photo posted by Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) on

During the first cruise to Cuba in April, said Ferguson, Sotomayor sent himself a postcard adorned with the Cuban and American flags.

“Hello world,” it started, adding this was the first communication from Cuba to the United States in 50 years.

“It took seven weeks,” Ferguson said, saying it arrived just before the Pulse shooting.

While Sotomayor was in Cuba, he befriended Cuban artist Santiago Hermes, who will speak at the celebration with an English interpreter.

“This attack at Pulse was aimed at the Latin community,” Ferguson said, adding most of Sotomayor’s family is Spanish-speaking. “(Hermes’) participation will be a beautiful moment in the ceremony.”

The Celebration of Life for Edward Sotomayor page invites attendees to the St. Pete Pride at 5 p.m. and a candlelight procession at 8 p.m. following the celebration.

Eddie Sotomayor Celebration of Life

Where: Robarts Arena, 3000 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota

When: 2 p.m. Saturday

St. Pete Pride

What: St. Pete Pride and candlelight procession

Where: King of Peace MCC, 3150 Fifth Ave. N., St. Petersburg

When: 5-8 p.m. Saturday

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