Flickering flames marking the warmth of a lost life served as somber remembrance for those in the transgender community.
An annual vigil was held honoring the lives of trans individuals who were killed in acts of targeted violence.
People read descriptions of real people who were killed in the past year.
“She was described by her aunt as being always beautiful and pretty, saying she’d give you the shirt off her back and I think that’s what put her in a situation to get hurt,” read one attendee.
It’s a threat members of the LGBTQ+ community said they face constantly, so it’s important as a group to lift one another up.
“We just want to show that they deserve love, and they deserve care and attention and to bring light to this horrible thing that’s been happening,” said Rose Surma, treasurer of the TransFamily of NWPA.
The city of Erie has been considered a welcoming place for the trans community. On a nationwide survey of 506 cities by the Municipal Equality Index, Erie was given a perfect score of 100.
The human rights campaign measures how inclusive laws, policies and services in the city are for the LGBTQ+.
“Last year, we finally got to 100. Our score is actually over 100, but the highest score they give you is 100 and we’ve repeated it now for the second year in a row. I’m very pleased with that because it’s all related to trying to involve people in government. We listen to them, we hear them, and it’s a value to everyone in Erie,” said Erie Mayor Joe Schember,
Surma agreed, saying Erie has come a long way with its inclusiveness, but more needs to be done to educate people suffering in violent situations.
“I think we’ve made some strides in Erie. We’ve got several groups and locations to go to, but the queer people, especially the queer youth, need to know that these things are happening and that there are that are safe places for them,” said Surma.
At tonight’s vigil, some 50 names and short bios were shared. Those telling their stories vowed not to forget them.