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NYC LGBTI icon, Ms Colombia, found dead at age 64

NYC LGBTI icon, Ms Colombia, found dead at age 64

Ms Colombia in the 2015 No Your City docuseries

New York City’s LGBTI community is mourning the loss of Ms Colombia.

What happened?

The beloved figure from Jackson Heights, Queens was found dead in the waters near Jacob Riis Park on Wednesday, 3 October.

Police say no foul play is suspected, though the cause of death is yet to be determined.

Her life & legacy

Ms Colombia, whose birth name was Osvaldo Gomez, was previously a lawyer who moved from Colombia to New York in 1975 to escape persecution for her sexuality. She was featured in the 2015 docuseries No Your City, which profiled NYC’s unusual characters.

Upon being diagnosed with HIV in 1988, she decided to live ‘day by day.’

‘I like to be free… They ask me, are you homo? Are you gay, are you lesbian? And I say, no, I am human being from another planet,’ she said in the video.

Ms Colombia loved New York because it allowed her to feel free to live the life she wanted.

Reactions from New Yorkers

‘I’m really heartbroken to hear Ms Colombia has died,’ photographer Daniel Albanese told Gothamist.

‘Always smiling and full of joy, Ms Colombia was a true New York icon, and one of my favorite people to photograph. At any given parade, even in sea of dazzling costumes, Ms Colombia always stood out. People flocked around her, amazed at her unconventional use of fashion, as well as the assortment of animals that usually accompanied her to events. I can’t imagine this city without her.’

‘She was seriously one of a kind,’ said Nicolas Heller, the documentarian behind the No Your City series.

‘Sounds cliche, but she truly was a shining star. Everywhere she went she was the center of attention. Everyone loved her. New York lost a legend today.’

‘She was beloved by all who saw her in the streets, at parades, and in the neighborhood wearing her colorful outfits and a bird on her shoulder,’ City Council Member Daniel Dromm said in a statement.

‘Her cheerfulness and ability to bring a smile to the faces of all who met her will be missed by all New Yorkers. While life did not always treat Ms Colombia with all the respect she was due, New Yorkers will remember Ms Colombia as a hero to everyone.’

Dromm’s office announced it will be holding a vigil for Ms Colombia, with more details to come.

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