Saturday, June 10, 2017

A Fitting Tribute to Pulse Nightclub Victim #1

As the one-year anniversary of the June 12th, 2016 Pulse nightclub mass murder in Orlando, Florida approaches, an area filmmaker is wrapping up a documentary about Eddie Sotomayor Jr., the first individual to be identified as a fatality.

One of 49: A Revolution of Love was directed by Sandi Hulon, who grew up in Los Angeles before relocating to St. Petersburg. One of Hulon's co-executive producers is Chuck Taylor, owner of Al and Chuck Travel, the Sarasota gay-travel agency where Sotomayor worked as a brand manager.

As Taylor told the Orlando Sentinel last year, Sotomayor and partner Luis Rojas sent a video message inviting him to join them at Pulse the night of the attack, around a half-hour before gunfire erupted. Sotomayor, 34, had overseen Chuck and Al's first gay cruise to Cuba in the spring of 2016 and was also responsible for a popular recurring “Drag Stars at Sea” cruise featuring cast members from Ru Paul's reality TV series. His nickname was “Top Hat.”

In an interview with a local ABC-TV affiliate, Hulon said she was struck by how much everyone--friends, family, co-workers--loved Sotomayor. That legacy led her to decide to focus on his life as a way of documenting the Pulse nightclub tragedy. On the film's Indiegogo page, there is a reminder of how emotional the project has been:

The entire production crew has been affected by a  beautiful man we didn’t even know and by a tragic event that changed them all. Our camera operators have cried and the editors froze with emotion. We have wept many tears as we watched an interview live and replayed in editing.  In all of our years of production experience, we have never witnessed a film crew  to be so overwhelmingly moved.

The film is scheduled to be completed and released later this year.

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