The South Florida LGBT community is mourning the loss of Magno Morales, who died Feb. 9 at the age of 54. 

He leaves behind his partner of 17 years, Eduardo Pinto, and many family and friends.

Morales was heavily involved in HIV/AIDS education in the Latino community, including Latinos in Accion, the Hispanic Unity of Florida, the Pride Center and High Impacto.

At his death, Morales served as the outreach supervisor for High Impacto, an HIV/AIDS organization serving the Latino community in Fort Lauderdale. They posted the news of his death on their Facebook page and said they would share more information about a tribute to him in the future.

On Pinto’s behalf, High Impacto shared a message from him: “His unconditional love for me, for 17 years, helped me find and accept the human being I am today. So long my love!”

Jorge Gardela, the CEO of High Impacto, recounted how Morales would bring his mother to Florida from Nicaragua every year to visit. Gardela would have them over to his home for dinner, where they sang Nicaraguan songs — including his favorite, “Vivirás Monimbo” by Carlos Mejía Godoy.

María Iglesias, the prevention coordinator at High Impacto, knew Morales for more than 15 years, dating back to working together at Hispanic Unity of Florida. When they were reunited at their new job, he always called her “doll.” And Iván Fernández, prevention specialist, shared how he will cherish a handmade Christmas card that Morales gave to him two months ago.

Morales previously worked at the Pride Center in Wilton Manors and was an instrumental part of its CHOICES and LIFE programs. He was interviewed by SFGN in 2011 when SFGN wrote about the CHOICES program. Offered in both Spanish and English, Morales was the group coordinator and helped HIV-positive participants reduce stress and build coping skills.

“Words feel hollow to express the profound grief and loss facing his family and friends,” the Pride Center said in a Facebook tribute. “He made us laugh with his fiery sassiness. He sewed more of our Wicked Manors and Stonewall Parade costumes than we can count.”

Emilio Apontesierraparetti, programs manager at High Impacto, shared that they would work together on their Halloween costumes.

“Magno is one of the members of my chosen family. He was like my brother with whom I could talk about my public and secret adventures as a gay Latino in the USA,” he said. “Magno was an honest, humble human being, defender of his ideologies, creative, of strong temperament when he had to show the strength of the Latin man that his culture demanded of him, but he was a loving man with a total capacity for dedication, not only with his family and friends, but also in defending the causes with which he identified: mental health problems among people with a positive HIV diagnosis.”


High Impacto colleagues celebrate the birthday of Magno Morales, center. Courtesy of High Impacto.