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.


  1. princely54 says

    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.

  2. AngelaChanning says

    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.

  3. Adam says

    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.

  4. JEREMY says

    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?”

  5. justme says

    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.

  6. says

    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.

  7. Richard says

    @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.

  8. wimsy says

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

  9. ratbastard says

    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.

  10. gregv says

    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.

  11. says

    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. Btw…it’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).

  12. craig says

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

  13. Richard says

    @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.

  14. ratbastard says


    I was being diplomatic.

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

  15. ratbastard says

    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.

  16. Paul R says

    @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.

  17. Paul R says

    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.

  18. James Quagliano says

    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.

  19. justiceontherocks says

    @ Bruce Simpson – unfortunately Oliver Sipple, the gay man who interfered with Sara Jane Moore’s attempt to kill Gerald Ford, wasn’t ignored. The San Francisco Chronicle “investigated” him, learned that he was gay, (possibly from Harvey Milk) and outed him in print. As a result he lost his job and his relationship with his devoutly-Baptist family. His life spiraled downhill rapidly from there.

    I trust the story of Daniel Hernandez will have a much happier ending.

  20. says

    I hadn’t realized that it’s time to drop the “openly” thing… but you’re right, commenters, it is

    hernandez FTW!!!

  21. truthteller says

    Daniel Hernandez Jr is a hero.

    He was in an extremely perilous situation and chose to risk his life to save others; he did not run to hide for safety. That is the definition of hero.

    The fact that he is gay and Latino (which has been ignored) is important because both minorities are vilified – especially in Arizona – and having a hero that is both minorities gives the general populace a real view of heroic actions by a member of society they have decided is anti-______.

    People like Mr. Hernandez change hearts and minds by showing us, with actions, we may be wrong about the judgements we made of people like him.

  22. Tom Cardellino says

    Good for you, James Quagliano, you just established that you’re somehow better than a hero acting under the bloody pressures of a murderous moment! Don’t you feel proud of yourself now? She was choking on her own blood, Nurse James! A head wound, especially one which we now know pierced only one hemisphere of her brain, most likely causes peripheral bleeding in the head that can indeed drown a struggling victim if they’re left prone. Why do you feel the need to in any way denigrate his heroism? If you are gay as I am, it always astounds me how petty & self-aggrandising as an “authority” members of our community can be on any given subject when the facts are overwhelmingly against their criticisms. The fact that Representative Giffords was gay-affirming in a state not renown for its inclusiveness, is another important fact that had young Mr. Hernandez in her orbit of supporters. Shall we stick to the facts and learn more about the world than we might already?

  23. Tom Cardellino says

    Truthteller you are a witness to yet another amazing fact about this young hero. As the grandson of four immigrants myself, two of whom were “illegal Italians” when it wasn’t widely prosecuted, I am even more proud of the character exemplified by this young, politically informed, and humanitarian American. Let’s keep in mind that if those who seek to repeal the protections of the 14th Amendment from our Great Living Constitution win, then this young guy might possibly have been deported. Since I’m not privy to when his ancestors came to America, I can’t be sure. What I am sure of is that my father and his siblings who were born here to “illegal Italians” would not have been able to fight Germany’s Nazis nor Japan’s hegemonists during World War II as they did. Now buried in Arlington Cemetery because of his unsung heroism, I can easily imagine my Dad wanting to shake the hand of Mr. Hernandez in appreciation for his civic-minded pursuits and bravery under fire.

  24. Rowan says

    But, but she was a Nazi! Only in America are you a Nazi who votes for healthcare reform-hence targeted by Palindrome,for DADT repeal and immigration issues. And still be a democrat.

    Why didn’t someone tell Palin she was, lol, shooting up the wrong tree?

    Oh, only in right wing America is the sky actually black not blue and the left eat babies.

  25. Rowan says

    Hey Rat, Greg etc

    Do you think she realised she was standing next to an immigrant!

    Why don’t you post on his Facebook your comments that she was centre-right? And from our knowledge of righties, she would’ve left his immigrant gay ass for dead?

    Go on. You’re both so full of so much intelligent comments that it’d be a shame as concerned and decent gay men you would waste this potential advice only in a gay blog.

    I’ll be watching.

  26. ratbastard says

    truthteller said:

    ‘The fact that he is gay and Latino (which has been ignored) is important because both minorities are vilified – especially in Arizona’


    What is a ‘Latino’? Is ‘Latino’ a race? Not to my knowledge. How is a ‘Latino’ a ‘Minority’? Minority what? Minority ethnicity? Well, if you’re born in and live in America, you’re American. ‘American’ is an ethnicity. If you become a naturalized citizen, you’re ‘American’. As for being a hyponated American [Italian-American,German-American,Hispanic-American, etc.,] THERE IS NO ‘ETHNIC’ MAJORITY. Everyone is an ethnic minority by that standard. So how are ‘Hispanics’ or ‘Latinos’ a minority, anymore than I ‘m a minority? In actuality, I’m a gender minority [male], an ethnic minority [by the standards of hyphenated Americans] a sexual orientation minority, and because I was born and raised Catholic, I’m a religious minority. How come I’m not entitled to Affirmative Action? When are people going to grow up and stop playing these word games and victim games?

    And I’m part ‘Latino’ if you consider the fact my paternal grandfather was From Spain. I’m an ethnic mongrel. But I’m really just ‘American’. America is my place of birth, where I was raised, my culture, my accent is American, and where I live.

    As for Arizona, it’s heavily ‘Hispanic’. And it’s BS to say ‘Hispanics’ and ‘Latinos’ are vilified. ILLEGALS are vilified. Difference.Gays? Yes, gays are still vilified to a degree ‘Latinos/Hispanics’ certainly aren’t.

  27. anthony says


  28. darkmoonman says

    @Paul: I come here for info on events that intersect the gay community. I doubt that I’m alone in that.

  29. FunMe says

    I just LOVE reading this story:

    He’s LATINO.
    He’s GAY.
    He’s a HERO.

    Oh, and he’s a HUMAN BEING who helped another HUMAN BEING.
    Thank you Mr. Hernandez!

  30. vonlmo says

    Laws protecting federal officials from assault: good But in America laws protecting people from assault aka hate crimes: bad….TF???

  31. jamal49 says

    @BRUCE SIMPSON: Not sure what you meant, but true heroes are content to retreat from the spotlight and not linger once the moment of their heroism has passed.

  32. truthteller says

    @ ratbastard
    First of all, congratulations on your name. It fits you perfectly.

    You write:
    “What is a ‘Latino’? Is ‘Latino’ a race? Not to my knowledge. How is a ‘Latino’ a ‘Minority’? Minority what? Minority ethnicity? Well, if you’re born in and live in America, you’re American. ‘American’ is an ethnicity. If you become a naturalized citizen, you’re ‘American’.”

    Let me enlighten you with a few facts. America is a continent, therefore anyone born in that continent is American! When Latinos make up 15% of the population in the USA, that makes Latinos a minority. 15% out of a 100% is a minority: simple math.

    You may not have a culture or heritage that formed you and instilled values you cherish and that may be why you would want Latinos to discard their heritage and become clones of you, if that is the case, I feel sorry for you and I understand why you fear anyone who is different.

    You claim to be Latino because you have Spaniard blood? Spanish people are Europeans, just like Brits, Scotts, Germans, you get the point.

    More from you:
    “As for Arizona, it’s heavily ‘Hispanic’. And it’s BS to say ‘Hispanics’ and ‘Latinos’ are vilified. ILLEGALS are vilified.”

    Latinos know when we are vilified because we are the recipients of racist vitriol. How do you know who has documents and who doesn’t? You don’t, therefore every Latino is a suspected undocumented human being.

    Your post is a perfect example of what I am talking about. You babble incoherent and ignorant vitriol about people you obviously have deep hatred for. You don’t even know what an American is!

    Once again: America is a continent, all the way from Brazil to Canada. We are all Americans because we were all born in the American continent.

    Ratbastard’s post confirms the need for my original post. The Gay community needs to unite with every person and every minority in order for us all to attain equality under the law.

    “No one is free until everyone is free.” MLKJR

  33. truthteller says


    You’re absolutely right, but those with fear and hatred in their hearts are too blind to care. It is up to the people of conscience to stand up for those that are not able to do it for themselves.

    Thanks for sharing your ancestors’ heroic service to our country.

  34. says

    Thank you Daniel,for your courage. The fact that he is a intern in Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford’s office is important. I can assure you, that there are few politicians who would of had the courage to have an openly gay intern as part of their staff. I think it is an important fact to this story. Also, that representative Gifford is Jewish, may have been the reason she was targeted. The shooter,was a weak bigoted kid, who boasted on his web-site that he read Hitler’s book, Mein Kampf. I just hope that we are not returning to the politics of the 1960s, when assassinations often took good leaders lives, and changed the direction that voters wanted. Congresswoman Gifford, was a middle of the road Democrat from a heavily Republican area.
    However, keep in mind what President Eisenhower said about taking a stance in the middle of the road, can leave you open to the extremes of both sides of a political
    issue. Wake up America, before it is too late.