Ed Junior had the voice of an angel, but only those of us involved in the karaoke scene of southern California got to hear it. Affectionately known by his friends as Rihanna, he could match the best singers of our time like @WhitneyHouston, @CelineDion, @Siamusic and Freddie Mercury.
But Ed had a secret that he kept from his friends: He was in the United States illegally. This explained why he never had a good job that lasted for long and why he never had a bank account. It also explained why he never sought medical attention after being diagnosed with AIDS. He didn’t have medical insurance, and thought he’d be deported back to Mexico and outed to his family.
Ed was too afraid to enter a hospital until the disease deteriorated his body so badly that he was collapsing and couldn’t hide it any longer. Friends admitted him into the hospital. He wasn’t deported. He never left the hospital. A few weeks later, he was dead.
As Ed laid on the hospital bed dying from AIDS, I would play his favorite songs for him, like Rihanna, “Shine bright like a diamond / Find light in the beautiful sea / I choose to be happy.”
Ed’s family came to the United States to claim his body. A celebration of Ed was held at his favorite gay bar to raise money for funeral expenses, where we all tried to sing in his memory. His family came and met all of Ed’s friends. They shed tears for the loss of their child, but also happy tears for the amount of love this tight knit community had for this angelic human being.
Ed’s voice and kindness touched all of our lives. He will be remembered always. He shone bright like a diamond in our sky.