The LGBTQ community remembers these individuals who were lost to COVID-19.
ROBERT “BOB” BARNUM
Gay rights advocate, philanthropist and real estate agent, Bob Barnum died on March 27 in St. Petersburg. He was 64 years old. He was an ardent supporter of the arts and once served as an adjunct professor at the University of South Florida. Equality Florida CEO Nadine Smith told Watermark, “He was a generous supporter of Equality Florida in our early days and he was a passionate advocate for survivors of domestic violence.”
New York City assistant nurse manager Kious Kelly died on March 24 in New York City. He was 48 years old. Kelly was likely the first NYC nurse to die of the coronavirus and is said to have brought empathy and joy to his job. Born Marion James Smith IV, Kelly graduated from Butler University in 1993 and originally went to New York to become a dancer. Andy Humm, a board member of New York’s New Alternatives for Homeless LGBT Youth, recalled Kelly checking in on a young man getting treatment at Mt. Sinai West and showing up “with a rainbow pin and a calm, caring manner.” Humm wrote in Gay City News, “He was an angel to this troubled, homeless African-American kid.”
Sheriff’s Deputy Shannon Bennett died on April 3 in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. He was 39 years old. A 12-year veteran of the Broward Sheriff’s Office, Bennett was described as “an out and proud gay law enforcement deputy; a school resource officer who protected and mentored the young students at Deerfield Beach Elementary; a man in love to be wedded later this year” in a tweet by the department. In the aftermath of the 2016 mass shooting at Pulse in Orlando, Bennett reportedly parked his police cruiser outside LGBTQ establishments in Wilton Manors, Fla. to reassure patrons of their safety.
Roy Horn, one-half of the popular Las Vegas act “Seigried and Roy” died on May 8. He was 75 years old. “Roy was a fighter his whole life including during these final days,” said long-time performance partner, Siegried Fischbacher, in a statement. The two had one of Vegas’ longest running and most successful shows until 2003 when Horn was mauled onstage by a white tiger. Fischbacher went on to say, “Today, the world has lost one of the greats of magic, but I have lost my best friend. From the moment we met, I knew Roy and I, together, would change the world.”
Photo Credits: Facebook and Broward Sheriff’s Office