Friday, November 21, 2008

Remarks from Memorial Vigil

Last night in Allston, nearly 200 people walked once again the path taken by the candlelight vigil for Rita Hester ten years ago. It was my honor to have led that first vigil for Rita, and to speak to our assembled circle last night prior to our reading of the names of this year's victims (and all those from MA). For what it's worth, my words:

Ten years ago, our sister Rita Hester was brutally murdered because she happened to be transgender. We gathered here with her family, and marched in solemn vigil for Rita.

We came from diverse identities and communities, united by our outrage at the horror perpetrated against a friend, a fellow community member, a human being treated inhumanely.

On that cold November night 10 years ago, a new community was born. A community of transgender people, friends, family and allies freshly connected with all of humanity in a growing bond of mutual respect.

For this, we owe Rita a great debt.

For her sacrifice was not chosen, but rendered upon her.
And we benefit from her horror, and the suffering of others, like Matthew Sheppard, James Byrd, and countless others, now including Duanna Johnson, whose suffering helps us move the most cynical of heart to say, finally, enough.
Enough violence.
Enough denigration.
Enough disrespect.

We stand here tonight in solemn vigil, not as people prefixed with any kind of descriptor or pronoun, but as human beings brought together by our abhorrence of senseless violence and the oppression of yet another class of people.

Thank you, Rita, and your family, for the friendships you made, and for your great loss, which has become our rallying cry.
And thank you, everyone out here on this very cold night, and those preparing hot drinks for us back in the church.

Thank you for caring.

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