SAN DIEGO - San Diego's annual lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Pride Festival holds a special place in the hearts of two straight men after their lives were saved by a gay organ donor.
This weekend, they are attending Pride and plan to every year from now on in an effort to memorialize their hero.
Eugene Villacorta and Victor Vasquez share a very special bond, though the two have only known each other for a little over a month. It is not because both are straight and now best friends, but because the two share a kidney donated from a man who was gay.
"They asked me if I had any problems with that and I told them I have no problems at all with it," said Villacorta. "It came to the point where if I didn't get dialysis I could have died."
Both Villacorta and Vasquez met randomly in June, the day after their kidney transplants. It was during a pharmacy class at UC San Diego Medical Center where they were receiving post-op instructions.
"I happened to have him right next to me," said Vasquez. "We got there a little early, so we talked a little bit and … were talking about our donors."
They soon learned that the kidney they shared came from a 46-year-old gay man from San Diego named Ludovico, who went by Vic.
"I wanted to put it out there that it is OK to receive a kidney from a gay or lesbian person," said Villacorta. "They're human. We're all equal."
Vic, to them, is their angel who they credit with giving them and five others a second chance at life.
"He saved a total of seven people, counting me and my kidney brother," said Vasquez.
In honor of their lifesaver, Villacorta and Vasquez are attending San Diego Pride this weekend and plan to every year from now on.
They are not hard to spot, dressed in their custom t-shirts that read, "Donate life: one gay man saved the lives of two straight men."
"This is our second time, you know," said Vasquez. "We got a second chance at life, so that's why I wanted to be here, because I know that gentleman Vic was going to be here and you know, I owe him everything."
Both men had their transplant surgeries at UCSD Medical Center in Hillcrest and both say they are feeling great.