Michelle Stafford

By Michelle Stafford

The LGBT community has a long way yet to go, but we have much to remember. Many significant forward strides have been made since the Stonewall Rebellion, and many people have worked hard to see those steps taken. Without those who have gone before us boldly standing and loudly speaking when people all around them were trying to force them to sit down and shut up, we would not be where we are today. We owe much of what we currently have to them.

This Sunday at 6 p.m. at Cathedral of Hope, there will be a gathering to remember some who gave their all during this last year — because of their boldness in living as their true selves and not as society tried to force them to live. That is a portion of what the Transgender Day of Remembrance is all about. In part it is a memorial to those who were murdered simply because they dared to express their gender variance. In part it is to remember all those who have had the courage to express who they knew they were in spite of who society tried to make them. In part it is to remind everyone within the LGBT community that we indeed are one community who needs to stand together in order to make the future changes which must become reality.

The LGBT community has much we can learn from the African-American community. They stood together to see changes made and their rights began to be restored. They have come a long way, for few back in the 1960s would dream that America would elect an African-American president, much less for two terms. If the LGBT community can learn to stand together bridging barriers of race, creed, sexual orientation, gender variance and all other imposed differences, we too can see a future with great change and greater hope.

While on the surface this Day of Remembrance is focused on the transgender portion of our community, at the heart it is a remembrance of where our community, the LGBT community, was in the past, how it has moved forward, and where it must press forward together to achieve. It is a time of honoring those who have been murdered simply because they were themselves. It is a time of reflecting on what each of us an individual has done to advance our protection under the legal system, our right to access adequate medical care, our freedom to obtain and hold employment without discrimination, the ability to seek housing without prejudice, freedom to dine and shop where we desire without discrimination, and the right to live our lives as the authentic people we know we are.

You are encouraged to stand as a community tomorrow night united in the dream of equal rights for all.

The Dallas Transgender Day of Remembrance 2012, A Candle Light Vigil and Celebration of Lives, will be from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18 at Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road, Dallas. Speakers for the event are Councilwoman Delia Jasso, Carter Brown of Black Transmen Inc., Michelle Stafford of GEAR and youth representative Hanna Walters. Music will be provided by Shelly Torres-West with Paul Allen, Mosaic Song, Terry Thompkins, and the Cathedral Ringers. Doors open at 5 p.m., and refreshments will be available.