Two charged in transgender activist Cecilia Gentili’s death

Written by on April 1, 2024

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(NEW YORK) — Two people were charged Monday for allegedly distributing the heroin and fentanyl that caused the death of transgender activist Cecilia Gentili.

Cecilia Gentili was 52 when she fatally overdosed on Feb. 6 in her New York City home due to effects of fentanyl-laced heroin, according to an autopsy and United States Attorney Breon Peace.

The drugs were allegedly sold to Gentili on Feb. 5 by Antonio Venti and allegedly supplied by Michael Kuilan, who have both been charged.

The Argentinian immigrant was a renowned activist, advocating for immigrants, the transgender community, sex worker rights and people living with HIV.

Celebrities including Billy Porter and Indya Moore attended her funeral, and several prominent trans activists, including Ceyenne Doroshow, Liaam Winslet, and Gentili’s partner, Peter Scotto, also spoke.

“She was an angel,” said Scotto in a statement following her death. “Our phone would ring all the time in the middle of the night and she’d jump into action to help people in crisis. She’d always be there and answer that call. But to me, she was my partner. We woke every day next to each other with so much laughter and love. I’m going to take that with me forever.”

Her funeral was held at Manhattan’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral and sparked controversy among several local Catholic leaders, including the New York Archdiocese, which called the funeral “sacrilegious and deceptive.”

“The Cathedral only knew that family and friends were requesting a funeral Mass for a Catholic, and had no idea our welcome and prayer would be degraded in such a sacrilegious and deceptive way,” said the Archdiocese.

Gentili’s loved ones denounced the criticism, saying all are supposed to be welcome.

“Cecilia’s immaculate work and the way she touched so many hearts and lives made her worthy of sainthood. Cecilia deserved this historic honor of the monumental funeral service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and to be cemented in history as a mother of multiple movements –– of sex worker, immigration, trans, and affirming health care movements,” said Oscar Diaz, the director of communications at Trans Equity Consulting, an organization that Gentili founded. “Her wit, creativity, humor, and grace will be missed by the generations she mothered.”

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