New London – At least 16 transgender or non-compliant gender people died in the United States due to violence in 2020, according to the human rights campaign.
OutCT sought to honor these people, as well as black queer trans people and black trans queer people at the inaugural “Vigil to Honor Black Trans Lives” on Sunday afternoon at the Town Hall.
The non-profit organization presented a series of speakers, a singing performance, a vigil and a ceremonial raising of an LGBTQ Black Lives Matter flag at the City Hall, which now flies in front of the American flag and will remain standing until the end of the month .
About 45 people gathered in front of the steps of the town hall for the event, organized by Chevelle Moss-Savage, a member of the OutCT council. OutCT began in 2013 when a group of LGBT people and allies tried to plan a New London Pride Festival. Now, the organization runs the New London Pride Festival, organizes events and runs a youth program.
OutCT President Kia Baird introduced Mayor Michael Passero to start the event.
Sparrow mentioned the recent Supreme Court ruling that protects lesbian, gay and transgender employees from discrimination based on sex as a cause for optimism, “just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse.”
“I don’t think it could have been more of a surprise,” said Passero. “It was the moral push we needed.”
Sparrow also spoke of the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, killed by police in Minneapolis, saying he thinks it will change across the country.
“The City of New London is here to pave the way and I am proud to be the mayor at this time in our history,” said Sparrow.
Subsequently, city councilor Curtis Goodwin made comments. He framed his speech in a personal way, saying it came from a “strange male black communist adviser”.
“We are a city that understands it. We are an inclusive city, “Goodwin said.” Whether you are black, that you are strange, that you have an identity that you wear, just understand that being black here in America is something that we cannot choose. We don’t choose to be black. We do not choose to fight oppression. We did not choose or create racism here. We collectively need everyone to change the injustice that is happening here. “
Before the eve, singer-songwriter Erycka Ortiz performed for the slowly growing crowd. Then, the participants kept silent for the vigil, which consisted of putting flowers with the name of one of the transgender or non-compliant people who died since the beginning of the year on an altar with a sign with a list of their names – Johanna Metzger, Layla Pelaez Sánchez, Nina Pop, Tony McDade and others. After each name was read into a microphone, a bell was rung.
Moss-Savage said that of the transgender or gender nonconforming people killed this year, only two were not black or brown and that the average age of the killed people is 35. More transgender / gender-compliant people than 16 (or 17, as OutCT said at Sunday’s event) are likely to have been killed this year due to a disparity in media / police reports, Moss-Savage added .
“We must continue to introduce ourselves so we can stop this madness,” said Moss-Savage.
On June 14, tens of thousands of Americans took part in public demonstrations following the killings of two black trans women – Dominique Fells and Riah Milton – who were killed 24 hours apart.
Baird said he believes this is the first time that the LGBTQ Black Lives Matter flag has been displayed at New London City Hall. He applauded city officials for their institutional support for OutCT.
“New London has been wonderful, the Pride flag has been flying for weeks, but we wanted to symbolically add the Black Lives Matter Pride flag,” said Baird. “It means everything that the city is busy with all the people who live here. It is a reiteration that we have communities here. We are not isolated and we are not alone. “
Moss-Savage has stated that she is a therapist who works primarily with people from the LGBTQ community. He noted that people were not paying the same attention to Tony McDade, a black transgender who was shot dead by police in Tallahassee, Florida on May 27 while investigating a deadly stabbing, as they were in Floyd. o Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police in Kentucky on March 31st.
“Stonewall’s unrest occurred 51 years ago today and the first celebration of pride took place 50 years ago today, so today is intentional,” said Moss-Savage. “I was hoping to draw attention to someone like Tony McDade because we didn’t say his name as much as George Floyd or Breonna Taylor.”
Moss-Savage also touched on the presence of public officials at the event.
“It gives the movement a desire to have the mayor and city councilor here, which shows us that we are not alone,” said Moss-Savage. “In order to make laws and change within the system, such support is needed.”