Gabrielle Giffords

Gay Intern Helped Save The Life Of Gabrielle Giffords

Daniel Hernandez Jr., an openly gay 20-year-old intern for Gabrielle Giffords, is being credited with saving the congresswoman's life.

Daniel Hernandez, who confirmed that he is gay in an interview with Instant Tea on Sunday morning, is a member of the City of Tucson Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Issues. “She’s been a great ally to the LGBT community,” Hernandez said of Giffords during the brief interview across a bad connection.

According to the Arizona Republic, Hernandez was standing about 30 feet from Giffords during the “Congress on Your Corner” event outside a Safeway store near Tucson. When the gunshots began, Hernandez ran toward them and began checking the pulses of people who’d been hit. When Hernandez got to Giffords, he used his hand to apply pressure to the entry wound on her forehead.  He pulled her into his lap and held her upright so she wouldn’t choke on her blood.

Hernandez, who has experience in triage, spoke to Christiane Amanpour this morning about his immediate instincts right after the shooting. ABC News reports:

"When this happened, I kind of just shut off all emotion because I knew I wouldn't be any good to anyone if I had a breakdown," Hernendez remembered. "I had to lift up the congresswoman because she was severely injured, and I wanted to make sure that she was able to breathe okay because there was so much blood." Hernendez used smocks from the grocery store to bandage the wounded victims.

"The congresswoman was alert. She was able to hold my hand when I asked her if she could hear me," said Hernendez. "I wasn't able to get any words from her. She may have been trying, but because of the way that I was having to hold her it was a lot easier to just 'if you can hear me Gabby just grab my hand to let me know that you're okay.'"

Hernandez had only been an intern for Representative Giffords for only five days.

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  1. Wow, sometimes people are just in the right place at the right time; and he is one. What a lucky thing for him to have been there with that knowledge or she may not have survived! I hope he gets some national recognition in a big way on this.

    Posted by: princely54 | Jan 9, 2011 1:20:01 PM

  2. How is his sexuality relevant to this story?

    Posted by: Monty | Jan 9, 2011 1:25:50 PM

  3. Daniel Hernandez Jr. = hero.

    Thank you sir.

    Posted by: justiceontherocks | Jan 9, 2011 1:26:28 PM

  4. Amidst this horrible tragedy, it is a comfort to know that Representative Giffords and other victims had courageous people by their sides. What a beautiful, humble and brilliant young man. Thank you, Daniel, for your service to our country.

    Posted by: AngelaChanning | Jan 9, 2011 1:33:19 PM

  5. Monty, his sexuality is relevant from the viewpoint that kids need gay heroes too. Not just heroes in the fight for civil rights, but ordinary people who do heroic things.

    Posted by: Adam | Jan 9, 2011 1:39:20 PM

  6. Adam, exactly. Great stuff.

    Posted by: Rowan | Jan 9, 2011 2:16:44 PM

  7. Do GayPatriot readers sit around spamming this blog now? AS STATED, Hernandez is a member of the City of Tucson Commission on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Issues. If he were a heterosexual male, and his wife and children were brought up in the interview, would anyone say, "How is his sexuality relevant to this story? Why can't the straights shut up about how straight they are? Why do they need validation?"

    Posted by: JEREMY | Jan 9, 2011 2:34:16 PM

  8. His sexuality is as relevant as the sexuality of people in similar circumstances who we're told are married or engaged or have any other public expression of their heterosexuality.

    However, the phrase "openly gay" is at once redundant, absurd and an insult. No news source would report that he's "supposedly gay" or "probably gay" or even "identifiably gay". If he's gay, he's gay -- no "openly" needed.

    Plus, "openly" makes it sound like he'd otherwise have something to hide. Why on Earth would he hide the fact that he was gay? That's a really ugly way to think about it.

    And, of course, "openly" implies that we now all have permission to talk about it. Sorry, but being gay's not so awful it has to be kept a secret and nobody gets to dictate how other people perceive them or talk about them. If you're gay and people identify you as gay, then guess what, you're gay and they get to say so.

    Is there such a thing as an "openly" any other minority group person? "Openly" black, or Jewish or disabled? Of course not. And it's not like we don't know we're looking at a gay person just as readily as we know we're looking at anybody else who can be readily identified by their appearance, behavior or actions.

    In short, either the guy's gay or not. No qualifiers needed. "Openly" is just flat-out creepy.

    Posted by: justme | Jan 9, 2011 2:37:21 PM

  9. Obviously, Monty, this must be your first visit to Towleroad - if not, that's a stupid question. I'll take it for granted that you're not stupid.
    Besides what Adam posted, this is a GAY website, Monty - it's focus is on the gay community and it's heroes, villains, and the every day experiences and politics and music that effects/affects us. It would have been a DISservice if Andy had not mentioned Hernandez's sexuality.

    Posted by: jeffreychrist | Jan 9, 2011 2:38:42 PM

  10. Hopefully, he won't be forgotten like the gay man who saved President Ford's life was.....

    Posted by: Bruce Simpson | Jan 9, 2011 2:46:28 PM

  11. Cool story of heroism

    Posted by: IndyTown | Jan 9, 2011 3:04:05 PM

  12. @JustMe - I'm with you that the "openly" wording is redundant, unnecessary and dumb (it's an adverb being used as an adjective).

    BUT - the *fact* that Hernandez says that he is gay give is significant to the press because it gives them permission to identify him as gay without resorting to rumor or leaving them open to slander. It probably makes no difference to the average person - but it *is* a crucial distinction to the editor and journalist.

    Where your argument slips up is in comparing being "openly gay" to being openly black or disabled. One of the differences between gay and other minorities is that we look just like the heterosexual majority. No one knows you are gay unless you speak up and say so. (As a matter of fact, in this hetero-normative society people *assume* you are straight unless they are told otherwise.)

    This is why gay people need to speak up about who they are, and why DADT had to be repealed. Unless you "tell" you are invisible. Some straights complain that we are "shoving our sexuality in their face". But unless we correct them, we are going to be asked repeatedly about our wives, girlfriends, and to comment on how sexy we think Angelina Joelie is.

    Posted by: Richard | Jan 9, 2011 3:47:23 PM

  13. The man's an intelligent, resourceful, and effective hero who likely saved the congresswoman's life. Good for him!

    Posted by: wimsy | Jan 9, 2011 4:00:50 PM

  14. Time for a good blowjob.

    Posted by: Erin Staples of WUSA9 News | Jan 9, 2011 4:21:41 PM

  15. Nice story.

    BTW: some posting seem to think the congresswoman is a raging leftist. She's not and is quite politically moderate, including championing gun rights [she herself owns a glock] and strict border controls. She even requested 10,000 national guard troops for her state's border control.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jan 9, 2011 4:49:40 PM

  16. @Richard:
    While your point about visible minorities does apply to "openly black" and "openly tall" people, many other minorities are also not visible for their status.
    But we never hear journalists refer to Congresswoman Giffords as "openly Jewish," for example. (She's just "Jewish.")
    The word "openly" seems to be uniquely applied to gay people and has become a cliche.
    The only case in which it makes sense to use the term is when it draws a distinction with "closeted."
    For example, there is speculation that Presidents Rutherford and Lincoln may have been gay, but we have yet to have an "OPENLY" gay President.
    But when the news media refer to someone as "gay" or "Jewish" or "Catholic," it goes without saying that he/she self-identifies ("openly") as such, otherwise there would be no basis for which to refer definitively to him/her with that adjective.

    Posted by: gregv | Jan 9, 2011 5:09:50 PM

  17. Hey--I'm stuck here (Arizona)--where people get shot a lot. After reading the comments on "openly gay" vs. "gay" vs. "Why does someone's sexuality matter?"--I clicked on to, a primary source for up to date details in the state. The article they post (from AZ Republic--major newspaper)never makes any mention of the guy being on the GBLT Commission from Tucson, or why this may be a factor on his being chosen as an Intern by a Congresswoman who is on the Congress GBLT Equity Caucus--and why his comment about "she's a fighter..."needed to also be understood within that context.'s really interesting to do the intellectual exercise of reading the "scrubbed of sexuality" version to see if it does or doesn't make a difference. If you do actually read what the "straight" press reports, note how there's a mention of a lot of women in the Intern's life, and how proud they are of him...and how (I'm a family therapist--I notice such things...)there is no mention of any males (father, brother, uncle, grandfather, cousins...or boyfriend).

    Posted by: Ty Nolan | Jan 9, 2011 5:09:57 PM

  18. @RATBASTARD: Moderate isn't the adjective I would use. Her record makes her more center-right.

    Posted by: craig | Jan 9, 2011 5:13:30 PM

  19. @GREGV - You've got no beef with me on the "openly gay" phrase - I'm with you 100%. I tried to make that clear in my first sentence, but obviously I didn't succeed that well.

    @TY NOLAN - I don't think the fact that Hernandez is gay is relevant to the story. I think it's just an interesting side fact.

    Posted by: Richard | Jan 9, 2011 5:25:11 PM

  20. @craig,

    I was being diplomatic.

    And the judge Loughner killed was appointed by Bush and is conservative.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jan 9, 2011 5:56:02 PM

  21. The murdered judge was actually stopped at the Congress on the Corner event on his way home from a Catholic church service. He attended mass daily.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jan 9, 2011 5:59:29 PM

  22. @JustMe: "Openly" often has to be used. We all know there are closeted gay members of Congress, so we can't call them gay even though we know they are. It's exactly what you say: a distinction between people with the conviction to live honestly and those who remain closeted.

    One of my clients has admitted to me that he's gay, but he's not "openly gay" to anyone at work. In his private life he's been dating men since divorcing his wife 20 years and is out to his family but not all his friends. So yes, there's a distinction. People lie about or compartmentalize their lives all the times, and in many parts of their lives they aren't openly gay. So I would hardly call it an insult, much less creepy, to indicate that Hernandez lives his life openly.

    And from a historical perspective, there are myriad people (J. Edgar Hoover, various actors and politicians) who were clearly gay but not open about it. So people speculate or say that they didn't live their lives as openly gay. It's an important distinction, especially in cases where it's clear-cut. You and I don't consider being gay a terrible secret, but many others (gay or straight) feel very differently.

    As Ty Nolan's comment noted, Hernandez's sexuality was scrubbed from a mainstream article. Most profiles of heros provide brief profiles of their family, whether spouses, children, or whatever.

    I have no idea what you mean by, "And it's not like we don't know we're looking at a gay person just as readily as we know we're looking at anybody else who can be readily identified by their appearance, behavior or actions." I often have no idea if someone is gay unless they tell me or live "openly" enough that I was told by someone else.

    Posted by: Paul R | Jan 9, 2011 6:02:10 PM

  23. By the way, how come so many commenters seem compelled to ask, "What does this have to do with being gay?" (And certainly not for just this story.) Maybe you're new to this site and aren't aware that Andy and his team have a variety on nongay interests, from animals to astronomy.

    All bloggers have the right to post whatever they want, just as you have the right not to read it. And if you haven't noticed, the subtitle of this site says that it has "homosexual tendencies." It doesn't say "All Gay, All the Time!!!"

    Many of the most interesting posts have nothing to do with gay issues and are greatly appreciated by many of us.

    Posted by: Paul R | Jan 9, 2011 6:07:41 PM

  24. I'll never tire of stories about gay heros. Bless you, Mr. Hernandez.

    Posted by: Roger | Jan 9, 2011 6:08:26 PM

  25. If he has experience in triage, he should have known to NEVER close of an open head wound or move a person that has any head wound. Luckily she did not have any neck injuries and she is not paralyzed. That being said, Congrats on not losing your head, and taking care of those you could.

    Posted by: James Quagliano | Jan 9, 2011 6:09:55 PM

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