A note from Jay: When I first met Lauryn Farris a few months ago, we quickly began discussing having her contribute at jaysays.com. Today, as she states, is indeed an appropriate day to introduce herself to our readers and friends. It is my great honor to have her contribution to the our little project known as jaysays.com and I look forward to learning from her vast experience and knowledge. She is a truly an LGBT hero.
What an appropriate day for me to do my first blog on jaysays.com. Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance. It is a day that we pause to remember those that have been taken from us only for being different. On the 19th the San Antonio Gender Association along with the MCC San Antonio sponsored our Observance.
It was a wonderful service. Reverend Mick Hinson did the lighting of the candle and introduction to the reading of the names. Michelle Burnett sang as did the Dignity Choir. The music was as from the voices of angels. After we had read names and lit candles I addressed the group with a few words that included the opportunity for each member of our group to introduce themselves and make a few comments.
The theme for the night was Remembering, Celebrating, and Hoping. My remarks were about youth, and about standing together to make a difference. It was focused on all of us standing together, those in the LGBT community and those who stand with us. I invited people to remember that it is love not hate we celebrate. I have included the text of the homily below.
There were about 75 people in attendance. This was a very nice start to an annual service that we hope will grow. It would have been nice to have more but we had a wonderful loving group.
As a broader introduction of myself I am currently president of the San Antonio Gender Association, co-chair of the HRC Religion and Faith committee and involved in many activities throughout the community. I look forward to writing more and Jay is one of the sweetest people I have ever met. If Jay will let me I will have another blog next week about family and what a blessing it is to be the T in LGBT.
Text of Homily:
Thank you to the MCC church, reverend Hinson and all of those that have assisted the San Antonio Gender Association in planning and presenting this Transgender Day of Remembrance.
Remembering, Celebrating and Hope. We are gathered here tonight with this theme and I want to take just a moment to reflect on each part of Remembering – Celebrating – and Hope. I am placing a special emphasis on youth, so many of those we have lost were so young, and our hope for the future is also with our young people.
Remembering – we ask a blessing for each of the names that were read, and for those unknown who suffered and died at their own hand – or the hands of others – so needlessly. We remember God’s covenant to not destroy us through a rainbow. We pray that we are nearing the time of another special rainbow when we remember this brutality of hate only through history.
In Puerto Rico, there is no rainbow these days. We remember 19 year old Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado whose body was discovered November 14. Jorge was openly gay and had been decapitated, dismembered and burned. The investigator said that “people who lead this lifestyle need to be aware that this will happen.” Jorge is an example of the violence brought to the entire LGBT community. Let us remember, however, that love not hate is the answer. Let us remember the beauty of the person and not their horrific death. Most of all let’s remember what God tells us in Hebrews 6:10
He will not forget what you have done. He will remember the love you have shown him. You showed it when you helped his people. And you show it when you keep on helping them.
E. B. White of Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little fame said, “I arise in the morning torn between a desire to save the world and a desire to savor the world.” That makes it hard to plan the day.”
For many of us life would be easier if we just lived it, and lived hidden in plain sight. For most of us instead it has been a desire to help save the world that we have chosen. We know the difficulties we will face, but we know that we are not alone. We celebrate the example that many we are remembering have given us, live authentically, genuinely and proudly as who we were created to be. I am PROUDLY a transgender woman who stands today to celebrate the lives of those who have gone before me. I also stand to celebrate those who stand with me, because they choose to out of love.
10 year old Will Phillips has chosen sit during the Pledge of Allegiance because justice for all does not include everyone. Will and his parents are all “straight”. They recognize and celebrate the lives of those who have been taken simply because they were different. They have chosen to raise Will in an environment of inclusion, we celebrate our fallen brothers and sisters and we celebrate those who stand with us for love.
We remember those that have fallen and we celebrate their authentic lives so that we will create a world of greater Hope for the future. We cannot lose another generation. I am here before you today because my own son asked “what are you going to do?” With hope and love in my heart I ask you “what are you going to do?” I pray that you will all join me in sharing the belief that we have hope for the future. And, that you will remember those we have lost and celebrate their lives by living authentically and genuinely with hope. Most of all that you will STANDUP and STANDOUT.