RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
We've been remembering front-line workers who have died during the pandemic; today, Scott Blanks. Scott was a dental assistant and a barista. He got sick with COVID-19 in March, and he died two weeks after he was hospitalized. He was 34 years old.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
His friend, Vincent Estrada, knew Scott for 10 years and shares how Scott helped him learn to love and accept himself. The two first met online and then started spending time together.
VINCENT ESTRADA: Scott was very, very comfortable with himself, really just owned who he was from a very young age. I did not. I had a very hard time as a Latino, gay, Catholic man coming to terms with who I was. And I remember one time we were together and he just - he was very direct. He just turned to me and he goes - he said, so are we dating or are we friends or what (laughter)? I didn't know what I wanted. I knew I was scared to be alone. When I couldn't really answer, I said not really sure. He just said, it's OK, boo. Then he just hugged me, and then our relationship kind of just slowly geared more towards friendship. I think anybody would have just said, you know what? I'm kind of moving on. Scott didn't.
I think he saw that I was in a difficult place in my life. He was just always around. And he slowly made me find myself again and be more confident. He really got to see how I kind of came through, you know, especially once me and my spouse Victor got engaged and got married.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
ESTRADA: I was married December 21, 2019. There's one video of him dancing at the wedding. You can't miss Scott because they're doing a Mexican line dance to Spanish music, which Scott loved. So it's all Latinos, and then here is this African American guy dancing this Mexican line dance, and he's doing it better than everybody else. He got to see me dressed up marrying another man (laughter). That's something that we knew when we first met probably never thought I would be able to do. You know, going out in public with another man was hard enough for me. Like, what are people going to think?
For him to see that I had came to this moment, I could just see Scott beaming there, a big smile on his face. That was the last time I saw him. Scott really had the ability to leave these imprints on everybody's lives. And I think it wasn't so much what he said to us, his friends. It was the way he made us feel.
GREENE: Vincent Estrada remembering his friend, Scott Blanks, who died from COVID-19 in March at the age of 34. To learn more about the front-line workers we've been remembering, you can visit npr.org. And you can also submit any front-line remembrances that you may have.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.