Real American Hero

Rachel Maddow shares story of gay nurse who came to NYC to fight on the front lines

Rachel Maddow has someone she wants you to meet: Dan Renzi. The gay, Kansas-based nurse (and Queerty/GayCities contributor) left home for New York City to aid in the fight against the COVID-19 outbreak.

Maddow highlighted the story over the weekend, having stumbled on Renzi’s story in an Instagram post. There, the nurse shared his thoughts on working the nightshift

“Honestly, when I signed up to be a nurse, I had these visions of myself working for a cosmetic dermatologist or something,” Renzi says in the video. “If you told me that not too many years after I graduated that I’d be living in a hotel in New York while I was putting bodies in body bags because this mysterious fire was mowing down everybody’s grandparents…how do you process that?”

Related: Gay NYC nurse dies of coronavirus

Renzi goes on to discuss calling relatives of the dead and toe-tagging bodies. He also says that as he helps prepare the bodies of the dead, he’s haunted by visions of his own parents, who have refused to observe stay-at-home guidelines.

Maddow then goes on to mention the “7 pm Clap” in New York, a citywide ovation directed at healthcare workers in a show of gratitude. She points out that Dan Renzi is exactly the kind of person the ‘7 pm Clap’ is aimed at.

“Part of the reason I wanted you to see these dispatches from him,” Maddow says, “in his new life as a nurse who has come from Kansas to work in New York City, is because I feel like we should all really see from the perspective of a health worker…we should see not just what those cheering episodes for health workers look like to all of us. I feel like we should all see what those feel like to somebody who those cheers are for.”

Maddow then cuts to some emotional footage of Renzi outside a hospital…which says more than anyone ever could.