Luis S. Vielma
Luis, a "bright young wizard," as described by those who worked with him at Universal Orlando's Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park, died in the largest hate crime against the LGBT community in U.S. history. A student of Hogwarts, the Sorting Hat rightfully placed Luis into Gryffindor, "where dwell the brave at heart, their daring, nerve and chivalry set Gryffindors apart." There, he served as a language interpreter and guide for incoming students. A bright, motivated individual, Luis was also pursuing a Muggle degree at Seminole State College where he was studying the magic of saving others through emergency medicine.
In the immediate wake of the tragedy, social media began circulating a tweet by J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, reacting to the massacre. She laments Luis's death with the shock and sadness as if he was one of her own, "he was 22 years old," she wrote, "I can't stop crying." Rowling's visibility undoubtedly brought scope to immense loss of individual life as she, and her fans, could connect in a tangible way to Luis. He was here. He was like us. He is gone.
I've always had a sort of love/hate relationship with the notion of celebrities. I am unabashedly fascinated by watching the their craft and fame intermingle, whether it be acting, sports, writing, or even uh, Kardashianing? That said, I find it problematic when people don't seek guidance beyond their celebrity role-models because so many celebrities are under-qualified for the job, some just barely existing on cocaine and product endorsement smoothies.
I don't think there is a way to stop people from listening to celebrities and that scares because it grants them such immense power. The consolation prize is celebrities can use their power to promote peace and goodness. Like J.K. Rowling, who transcends the term "celebrity," and is most definitely the Mother Theresa of our generation. Or these guys, 49 famous people using their voices to stand up to the never-ending violence and hatred in our society, only out of the ordinary when our favorite author beams it out from her smartphone.
Today, in honor Luis, I'm embracing my own celebrity, albeit the comparatively minuscule power of influence I have in my children's young minds. I commit to being the best person that I can so my children have a strong role-model to look to. I'm by no means perfect, but I can at least try to teach them the virtues extinguished in the victims of this incomprehensible crime. If we teach our children well, maybe their generation wont have to work so hard for peace because they will already have it.