In a poignant announcement shared on Cecilia Gentili’s Instagram account, her passing was confirmed, marking a profound loss for the LGBTQ+ community. The post, shared late Tuesday, conveyed the news with a heartfelt message: “Our beloved Cecilia Gentili passed away this morning to continue watching over us in spirit. Please be gentle with each other and love one another with ferocity.” The cause of her death was not disclosed, leaving the community in mourning and prompting an outpouring of tributes.
A Champion Remembered
Cecilia Gentili’s impact on the LGBTQ+ community, especially as a trans icon, garnered tributes from elected officials and fellow advocates. New York Governor Kathy Hochul expressed deep condolences, acknowledging Gentili’s role as a champion in the trans rights movement. As an artist, activist, and author, Gentili touched countless lives, helping people find love, joy, and acceptance.
GLAAD CEO and President Sarah Kate Ellis echoed the sentiment, emphasizing the significant loss that Gentili’s death represents. Gentili’s influence stretched beyond New York City, resonating within the trans community and leaving an indelible mark on those she touched.
A Force for Change
Cecilia Gentili’s journey epitomizes resilience and determination. Born in Argentina, she moved to the U.S. at 26, seeking a safe space to live authentically as a transgender woman. Overcoming challenges, including a period of self-support through sex work, Gentili’s life took a transformative turn during a brief jail stint on drug possession charges. This experience led her to focus on recovery and shift towards a career in public health.
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Working with organizations like Apicha Community Health Center and GMHC, Gentili carved a path of advocacy. In 2019, she founded Trans Equity Consulting, dedicated to fostering LGBTQ-affirming services in workplaces. The following year, she introduced Cecilia’s Occupational Inclusion Network, offering free healthcare for sex workers through collaboration with Callen-Lorde Community Health Center.
Artistic Pursuits and Literary Contributions
Gentili’s advocacy extended beyond activism as she delved into artistic pursuits. Her appearance in the TV series “Pose” from 2018 to 2021 marked a transition toward a more significant commitment to the arts. In 2022, she published “Faltas: Letters to Everyone in My Hometown Who Isn’t My Rapist,” a memoir reflecting on her early years.
Scheduled for April 2023, Gentili planned to return to the stage with an encore presentation of “Red Ink,” an autobiographical one-woman show that premiered in New York the previous year. Her multifaceted contributions underscored her dedication to self-expression and storytelling.
A Powerful Message to the Trans Community
In an essay for the 2023 anthology “Surviving Transphobia,” Gentili shared her perspective on empowerment and safety. She dismissed the label of being “radical” for her life’s work, urging trans individuals, especially women of color involved in sex work, to prioritize safety alongside empowerment.
“I say this to trans people, trans women of color, and to trans women of color who are undocumented or sex workers or both, people like me: Do what you can to achieve whatever level of empowerment you can get, but also be safe,” Gentili wrote. She refrained from categorizing herself as “radical,” emphasizing that her judgment was based on the positive impact on her community.
Cecilia Gentili’s passing leaves a void in the LGBTQ+ advocacy landscape. Her life, marked by resilience, compassion, and creativity, serves as an inspiration for generations to come. As the community mourns the loss of a trailblazer, Gentili’s legacy will endure through her activism, art, and the lives she touched. The outpouring of tributes reflects the profound impact she had on both the LGBTQ+ community and society at large, emphasizing the need to continue the fight for equality and understanding.