Most of you know my political leanings. What you may not be aware of is why I feel the way I do. I'd like to share some personal stuff with you if you don't mind.
Last night, I attended a memorial ceremony for the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. While you may not be familiar with it, we in the Trans community are. It is a solemn day for us because it keeps alive the memory of all those who have been murdered simply for being different. This post is my takeaway from the event.
Thanks to Dr. Geena Alessia Buono and all the other wonderful people for organizing last night's Transgender Day of Remembrance event at the Paramount Theater in Asbury Park. Trans folk, friends and allies shared their love, art, stories and support for our community and the struggles many of us face.
During the reading of the names of those who were murdered this past last year (there were over 300 worldwide) one word stood out among all the others; UNKNOWN. These people were killed for the crime of being different. Ostracized by their own people, they are unable to find jobs, are rejected by their families and are often homeless. Many become sex-workers because they are desperate and need to eat. And when they are killed, identification is often impossible because no one claims their remains and they have no official ID. Even in death, they are denied the simple dignity of having a name.
This past week, I have been honored to be at the Matthew Shepard Foundation's kickoff of their 20th year (yes it's been that long) and once more reminded of the violence that is perpetrated on the LGBT community on a daily basis. Add to that the solemnity of last night's memorial, and suffice to say that I am emotionally drained today.
As a performer, I've always tried to bridge the gap between Trans and cis folk. I believe that love, humor and laughter can ease pain and bring people closer by showing that we are more alike than we are different. But we live in a time of division and hate and that both saddens and sickens me. It threatens us as a community and it threatens us as a society. We are all we have. We are all one family. Why can't we all understand that?
The numbers of our murdered Trans brothers and sisters grows each year. The suicide attempt rate in the Trans community is still at 40%. In any other sub-culture of America, this statistic would be a call to arms; but not with us. Why?
True, we are making strides and fighting for our place in the world. It is happening, albeit slowly. But to have so many die UNKNOWN, to have so many children fearing for their lives each time they get on a school bus, to have violence perpetrated on another human being simply for being different…that’s not America. That’s not living up to the ideal of all men and women being created equal. That is a sin against humanity.
So much of the hate seems to stem from those who purport to be followers of Jesus. They should be ashamed of themselves. Jesus was a man of peace. Jesus spoke of the brotherhood of man, of acceptance and most of all, of love. And yet these “godly folk”, who have chosen to support a pedophile in an election, who call for LGBT folk to be murdered and hated and ostracized from society, still continue to believe that god is on their side. How have we come to this?
I appreciate the time you took to read this all the way through. It means a lot to me. I have tried to refrain from diatribes such as this one because it seems that I proselytize too much on the subject human rights and love. I can’t help it this time. I needed to say it. Thank you.