Gays Against Guns hosted a dance event at the NYC AIDS Memorial on Aug. 16 alongside Manuel Oliver and Patricia Padauy-Oliver, who are touring the country to bring attention to gun violence after their child was killed in the Parkland gun massacre in 2018.
This year the Olivers are marking five years since the death of their late son, Joaquin “Guac” Oliver, who was shot and killed when 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz murdered 17 people and injured 17 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the suburbs of Miami.
The Olivers have been traveling with 23 buses, stopping at cities ranging from Orlando, Florida to Uvalde, Texas, with the goal of meeting victims and standing against gun violence. The dance event with Gays Against Guns was held in Oliver’s memory.
Since their son’s death, the Olivers have dedicated their lives to the cause. Notably, they founded Change The Ref, which utilizes education, conversation, activism, urban art, and non-violent creative confrontation — particularly around gun violence.
In a Facebook post, Gays Against Guns said the dance party was “powerful.”
“This work we do, indeed the trauma we all face day in day out as Americans living in a gun violence epidemic, is so hard on our souls,” Gays Against Guns said on Facebook. “Magic moments like this when we come together and really LIVE, that’s when we are reminded what this is all about.”