Residents of Queens are reacting with shock and grief at the news that Miss Colombia, a colorfully attired Jackson Heights personality who was a fixture at LGBTQ Pride celebrations and other gatherings, was found dead in the waters off Jacob Riis Park in the early morning hours of October 4.
The NYPD found no immediate signs of foul play and the investigation is ongoing pending the results of an autopsy.
Miss Colombia, aka Osvaldo Gomez, preferred male pronouns and was an attorney in his native Medellín, Colombia, arriving in the US in the 1970s fleeing persecution in his homeland, he stated in 2015 in the video documentary series “No Your City.” He was 64.
At an evening vigil on October 5 in Jackson Heights, out gay City Councilmember Daniel Dromm of Jackson Height said Miss Colombia “was an iconic figure in the LGBT community and beyond. She was beloved by all who saw her in the streets, at parades, and in the neighborhood wearing her colorful outfits and a bird on her shoulder. Her cheerfulness and ability to bring a smile to the faces of all who met her will be missed by all New Yorkers. I remember marching with Miss Colombia at the first Queens Pride Parade and at other parades across the city, including the India Day Parade and the Chinese New Year Parade, among others. While life did not always treat Miss Colombia with all the respect she was due, New Yorkers will remember Miss Colombia as a hero to everyone. May Miss Colombia rest in peace.”
Dromm was joined at the vigil by Eddy Gomez, Miss Colombia’s sister, transgender activist Appolonia Cruz, longtime gay leader Brendan Fay, Catalina Cruz and Jessica Ramos, Democratic nominees for, respectivesly, the State Assembly and Senate, and members of Make the Road NY, the Caribbean Equality Project, and Gay Men’s Health Crisis.
Dromm’s Council colleague from Queens Francisco Moya of Corona, in a written statement, said, “Miss Colombia brought life and character to Jackson Heights. This city is a little less colorful and a little less brilliant without her here. Miss Colombia knew who she was and had the courage to be exactly that, every day. We should all be so brave. Rest in peace, Miss Colombia, an institution of Jackson Heights, a treasure of Queens.”
Out gay Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer of Sunnyside tweeted, “Miss Colombia was not only at all parades in #JacksonHeights & a beloved figure. About 15 years ago I was at a @Mets game at #SheaStadium & there was Miss Colombia walking around defiant & proud! #QueensValues”
In a tweet from Tokyo, Panti Bliss, the Irish LGBTQ activist, performer, and drag queen who has traveled to Queens several times for Pride and St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, wrote, “R.I.P. Miss Colombia. I trust there’s a comfortable spot in a colorful celestial menagerie somewhere with her name on it.”
At the October 5 vigil, David Gonzalez urged attendees to be on the lookout for his brother Peter, a friend of Miss Colombia’s who is missing and has autism.