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Image: Katy Perry surprises Tony Marrero on 'Ellen'.

Almost four months after a gunman walked into the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando on Latin Night and started a massacre that ended with 49 people dead and countless others injured, the City Beautiful is healing, molding itself into a different place than it was before June 12.

In spite of the ache, the LGBTQ community and its allies are ready to turn out in numbers – an estimated 150,000 – at the Come Out With Pride Orlando parade this Saturday, weather permitting. For some, it might be hard to find joy amid the continued sorrow, but for Tony Marrero, the small joys are necessary to survive.

Marrero has chosen to focus on the good things as he recovers from multiple gunshot wounds to his body and the loss of his best friend Luis Vielma. A few weeks ago, he had surgery, and since he left the hospital, he hasn’t been able to get back to his regular routine, though he did get to meet his hero Katy Perry on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Using the #BeTheLight, Marrero says he wants to start a positivity campaign and live in honor of the ones who didn’t make it.

The upcoming Pride parade will be emotional for him, but also beautiful. When the tragedy happened earlier this summer, he felt like Orlando formed a wall protecting the LGBTQ community from harm, like they were babies. Life after Pulse still feels surreal, but as Marrero says, “We’re still here. We’re rising together. We’re not going to give up.”


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About Monivette Cordeiro