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Longtime LGBT Advocate Terry DeCarlo Dies

Terry DeCarlo. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE

Longtime champion of Orlando’s LGBT community Terry DeCarlo has died. DeCarlo, who was 56, helped lead the community through the aftermath of the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016. He had been receiving treatment for stage four face and neck cancer.

DeCarlo’s husband Bill Huelsman shared the news in a post on DeCarlo’s facebook page. 

Tributes on social media included posts from state lawmaker Carlos Guillermo Smith (D- Orlando) and Orange County Sheriff John Mina, who was chief of the Orlando police at the time of the Pulse nightclub shooting. 

The OnePulse Foundation said DeCarlo left “a powerful legacy”.

We are heartbroken by the passing of our dear friend Terry DeCarlo. Terry was a passionate advocate for Florida’s LGBTQ community and leaves behind a powerful legacy. We are forever grateful to him for helping our community heal and move forward following the Pulse nightclub tragedy. Our deepest condolences and prayers go out to his husband Bill and his entire family.

At the time of the Pulse nightclub shooting, DeCarlo was the executive director of The Center, a non-profit advocacy organization for Orlando’s LGBT community. In an interview with WMFE’s Intersection in 2018, DeCarlo said after the shooting, The Center became a place for people to seek comfort and answers. 

“Everybody, their eyes opened, and they said ‘Wow, that’s what that does. That’s what that’s there for. It’s there to help the community.’ And it took on a new role. I mean, where we were a little place on Mills Avenue, the next day we were known worldwide.”

He said The Center was there for the whole community. 

DeCarlo left The Center in 2018. 

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Matthew Peddie

About Matthew Peddie

Host of WMFE's Intersection & Assistant News Director

Matthew Peddie grew up in New Zealand and studied journalism at the University of Western Ontario. After graduating with an MA in Journalism he returned to Christchurch, working as a reporter for Radio Live and Radio New Zealand. He’s reported live from the scene of earthquakes, criminal trials and rugby ... Read Full Bio »