A moving tribute to an extraordinary family

By Pedro Julio Serrano, Task Force Communications Manager/Founder of Puerto Rico Para Tod@s

The Task Force's Pedro Julio Serrano (R) with the family of Jorge Steven López Mercado.

The New York City Council honored the family of Jorge Steven López Mercado last night with a very poignant and moving tribute at its annual LGBT Pride event at City Hall. The council issued a proclamation to honor the life of Jorge Steven, a young gay man who was brutally murdered in Puerto Rico, and the courage and strength displayed by his family following this horrible crime.

I spoke at the event:


Jorge Steven’s mother, Myriam Mercado, spoke about how her faith has provided them with strength. “The God I know is a God of love; he doesn’t make any exceptions,” she said. I have seen and felt that strength since the moment I met them. They are a loving, hopeful and courageous family that loved and continue to love Jorge Steven unconditionally.

Watch Myriam Mercado at last night’s City Council event:


The Task Force has been with the family since the news of the killing sent shockwaves throughout Puerto Rico, the U.S. and the world. We urged authorities to investigate whether the murder was a hate crime and we challenged local political and religious leaders to speak up against the crime.

We stood in solidarity with the Puerto Rican LGBT community and the López Mercado family immediately, as I flew to Puerto Rico to offer our support and channel the LGBT community’s outpouring of emotion and love toward them. We also helped the family to navigate their response to media at such a trying time. And were also there when the confessed killer was sentenced to 99 years in prison.

There is some hope in Puerto Rico because after much pressure from the Task Force, the LGBT community and other organizations, a special panel to investigate hate crimes has been appointed. We continue to demand justice for the more than 25 killings of gay and transgender individuals in the past eight years in Puerto Rico. As someone who was born and grew up in Puerto Rico, this makes me particularly hopeful.

I was humbled to serve as the family’s spokesperson as they received the proclamation by the council. I talked about how proud I am to be an honorary member of such an extraordinary family, that with their strength and message of love that conquers hate are teaching the world how it should really be — a world where all of us are treated equally and the dignity of every human being is fully respected. They are a source of inspiration to all of us, to everyone of us.