Today’s Agenda Is Brought To You By…

Jim Burroway

July 2nd, 2016

We Are Orlando


Frank Hernandez Escalante, 27 years old.

13465946_1104134739658904_5278633748089157752_nFrankie was proud. One picture he posted on Facebook was him in a “GAY O.K.” tee-shirt, with the photo modified with a rainbow cover overlay. He had “love has no gender” tattooed on his the inside of his upper right arm. He was from Weslaco, Texas, in the Rio Grande valley, and a member of Aqui Estamos RGV, the “LGBTQ Rio Grande Valley family.” He taught his sister how to walk in heels. He loved Beyoncé.

Frankie’s family moved to Louisiana, and he moved to Orlando about three years ago where he felt he would be in a more accepting environment. He was at Pulse that night with his boyfriend, Brett Rigas. They were in the main room of the nightclub near a bar when the shooting started. Brett was shot in the arm, but escaped. He lost track of Frankie in the chaos.

frank_escalante_d11201e019f1470e21c1a980324ec349.nbcnews-ux-600-700Brett’s father called Frankie’s mother, asking if they had heard from Frankie. His mother tried to reach him by phone, but Fankie didn’t pick up. His family tried Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook, all without success. His mother and sister hopped into a car and drove 753 from their home outside Lafayette, Louisiana, to Orlando, hoping to find Franki alive. On arriving to Orlando, they learned that he was gone.

The last time Frankie’s mother talked with Frankie was the day before, after she heard that “The Voice” singer Christina Grimmie had been shot and killed at a concert in Orlando on Friday. All she wanted to know was that he was okay.

Frankie was buried back in Weslaco. Many family and friends at his funeral wore shirts displaying “love has no gender.”


Jason Benjamin Josaphat

Jason's mother being comforted by President Barack Obama

Jason’s mother being comforted by President Barack Obama

Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old.

Jason, a Haitian-American teen, had recently graduated from high school in Mesa, Arizona, and moved to Orlando with his mother. He was studying Computer Science at Southern Technical College. Less than two weeks before the shooting, he had graduated from Southern Technical’s business office specialist program. His interests included computers, photography and working out. His family described him as quiet. “He was always helpful, always willing to help someone in need,” said his aunt. His ungle added: “Never once has he ever shown any type of rage or anger. He was just high on life.”

When shooting broke out at Pulse, Jason called his mother from the bathroom. She told her son to look for a way out while she dialed 911 on another phone, keeping her son on the line. She heard the shots getting closer. Then the shooting stopped, but she could no longer hear her son.

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