If you’ve spent time in Jackson Heights, you’ve probably seen her. Wearing flamboyant, colorful dresses, and with a cluster of props (occasionally animals) in tow, Ms. Colombia is one of the characters that make living in NYC worth the ridiculous rents and the searing smell of hot garbage on scorching summer days. I once saw her scaling the walls of a building in Bryant Park while I waited in line for an over-priced lobster roll from a food truck, and her joie de vivre made my whole day.
I never really knew the back story of La Loca (as neighborhood regulars fondly call her) but a short documentary series called “No Your City” aims to change that. The series is focused on profiling the out-there characters that are famous here, and Ms. Colombia, (whose real name is Oswaldo Gomez), is the latest to be featured.
Gomez moved to NYC from Medellín, Colombia in the 70s, hoping to find a place where she wouldn’t be persecuted for her sexual orientation. After being diagnosed with HIV in 1988 – and being told she only had a year to live – she decided to live her life the way she’d always wanted. She began performing on the street in the colorful dresses and props she’s now famous for, and more than 20 years later, credits this decision with keeping her alive.
The decision is giving us life too, mami.