Sunday, June 23, 2024

Lorenas Borjas, a historic figure for LGBTQ rights and Latinos in New York died from the coronavirus

Lorena Borjas, an undocumented migrant in the United States, a transgender and precarious person, but above all a historic fighter for LGBTQ rights and Latinos died in New York City. She is remembered for handing out condoms to the sex workers in her neighborhood in Jackson Heights.

She also organized syringe exchanges to protect transgender people going through hormone therapy, and even established an HIV testing clinic in her own home. “I didn’t expect people to come to it,” said her friend and fellow Latino and transgender activist Cecilia Gentili. “She was going to them.”

She was so concerned about her community that even as she waited for the results of her COVID-19 test, Lorena Borjas thought about how transgender immigrants would cope with the pandemic. She died of the coronavirus at 59, and now New York mourns this godmother of marginalized communities, whose spirit of struggle and love is so necessary in these troubled times.

“Heartbroken.” That’s how shocked Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was when she received news of Borjas’ death on Monday at a Coney Island hospital from complications caused by coronavirus. She was also honored by New York Attorney General Letitia James, New York City Council President Corey Johnson, and several anti-discrimination and trans community rights associations who recalled her commitment and determination.

“Lorena spent her life tirelessly fighting and supporting our trans sisters, making sure they were treated with the dignity and respect they deserve,” Make the Road New York, an organization that fights for immigrant and working-class communities, said in a statement. “We will truly miss her. May she rest in power and love.