HOLLYWOOD. On Monday, November 21, a transgender commemoration event was held at the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
Candles and white, pink and lavender flowers, set on tiers draped in trans flags, adorned the center stage. A large monitor served as the focal point of the evening over the memorial exposition.
The Los Angeles Trance Choir kicked off the ceremony with an a cappella performance. After a song of hope and redemption, opening remarks were made at the pulpit by Mariana Morroquin, head of the anti-violence project at the LGBT Center, and representatives of the Trans Wellness Center, Bienstar Human Services, Los Angeles Children’s Hospital, Community of Friends. Center, APAIT and [email protected]
“I think it’s very important to recognize our partners,” Morroken said, addressing a seated audience of about 150 people grimly. “We know that hate is real. Many of us have seen hatred up close. We are very grateful that we have you. We open our arms to accept your love and your support. We support each other by providing jobs, providing space for us and providing opportunities. Because the hate is outside. We need this space. We must welcome everyone. I want you to keep this in your heart. And tomorrow, when we get back to work, let’s open our hearts and our minds. Don’t make decisions for us. Invite us to these tables. We know what we need. We have always done this. We will continue to fight because that’s what we do.”
She then added, “We will not let violence take away our ability to come together, love each other and dream together in solidarity. We are going because we must remember what is worth fighting for. As long as we remember. We tell the stories of those who have been lost. That will be enough for today.”
One by one, the audience approached the pulpit to read the names and stories of the many transgender people whose death was the tragic result of hate crimes. The central monitor displayed photographs, the names and ages of the victims.
“My name is Nikai David,” said one of the speakers, with a photograph of a pale, curly-haired girl hanging behind them. “I am a model and social media influencer who once dreamed of owning her own clothing boutique. I just celebrated my birthday a week before I was shot dead in Oakland, California on December 4, 202. I was thirty-three years old.”
The stories of these deaths included shootings by attackers, police and family members, severe beatings and stabbings. The bodies of these victims were found in their homes, in garbage cans and on the streets, where they were left dying, among other things.
The last name read was Daniel David Aston, who died in the recent mass shooting at the Q Club. This year, TDOR followed a senseless massacre in Colorado Springs that left five members of the LGBTQ+ community dead and 25 injured.
The Rev. Valerie Spencer delivered an impassioned closing speech, first inviting the audience to take a few deep breaths in unison.
“We will mourn our family, our brothers and sisters,” said the Rev. Spencer, “but our focus is not on the violent end of their lives. We choose to see them and know them and celebrate them in the full context of their lives. Because they were fierce and powerful people.”