In move befitting royalty, sixteen queens and Enigma raise $8000 for one of their own

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | Following a tragic motorcycle accident that cost Enigma bartender Ryan Stroehlein his life on July 11, the St. Petersburg LGBTQ community came together to honor his memory and raise funds for his surviving passenger.

On July 27, the Enigma family hosted its “Celebration of Life for Ryan Stroehlein,” which included a video tribute of the late bartender, a breathtaking floral arrangement in his honor and most dearly, words of remembrance, love and support from and for Stroehlein’s friends and family.

Lisa Stroehlein, who traveled from New York with other members of Ryan’s family to attend, publicly thanked Enigma and its staff for the beautiful experience. “You have provided us with another window into Ryan’s life,” she wrote on their Facebook page, “allowing us to see other aspects of Ryan’s beautiful soul.”

“We will keep this experience in our hearts forever,” she continued. “The overwhelming amount of sincere words, love, respect and kindness for Ryan was amazing.”

She personally thanked Enigma’s owner Ed Gonzelez and his staff of 19 for providing “a place for Ryan to flourish and experience many beautiful friendships,” and for extending their love to the entire Stroehlein family.

Patron Carl Anderson publicly declared that the event was a “beautiful evening surrounded by Enigma family and friends,” a “touching tribute to a wonderful young man taken too soon.” It was a sentiment echoed by most in attendance.

Another paid his respects early, “still dealing with his emotions,” noting on the event’s page that “Ryan was a great man whom I respect. Great flowers, beautiful photo for the easel,” Don Russell said.

Enigma closed early that Thursday evening, allowing both the Stroehlein and Enigma families to join as one and remember their mutually-adored family member.

A benefit drag show followed the celebration onJuly 30. “Always in Our Hearts” was coordinated by Enigma’s Show and Entertainment Director Daphne Ferraro, and featured sixteen performers in total. Each queen donated their time and their tips with one goal: to raise money for the Stroehlein family and for the medical expenses of Jordan Marcum, who was on Ryan’s motorcycle with him on that tragic night.

The show featured beloved performers from across the Tampa Bay area, beginning with Ferraro and co-host Kathryn Nevets. The co-hosting duo, as well as Kori Stevens, PheYonceMontrese, Conundrum, Anita Waistline, Dixie Lynn Michaels, Victoria Michaels, Anastasia B. Childs, Stephanie Delytes, Jaeda Fuentes, Crystal Reigns, RockellBlu, Evon Michelle, Juno Vibranz and Mya Valentineeach showcased their selfless advocacy and support for the LGBTQ community with their every move.

“Sixteen performers came together, in unity, to raise funds for a great cause,” Ferraro wrote on her Facebook page the following morning. “The love that was shown cannot be put into words, but I wanted to let you know that due to their kindness, and the amazing generosity of the audience, we raised close to $4,000.” The funds raised included a 50/50 raffle, with the prize of over $200 ultimately being returned as a donation to cheers from the crowd.

“I’ve never been more proud to be the show director at a venue,” Ferraro concluded, “and have never been more proud to be a queen. My heart is full of love and joy.”

The money raised was matched by Enigma’s owner, who announced his intent toward the end of the benefit with a humble solidarity that brought the total to nearly $8,000. Gonzalez later revealed that the Stroehlein family insisted all of the money raised be given to Ryan’s passenger Jordan for her medical expenses and recovery.

“It’s a testament to how amazing the Stroehlein family is,” Gonzalez said, “which makes it easy to understand why Ryan was so incredibly special.”

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