Those of you who know me know that I am an ally and supporter of the LGBTQ community. I have been for as long as I can remember. In college, I was an active member in our Allies group and every year, I attend the New York City Pride Parade with a core group of the friends I made there.
In Korea, awareness and acceptance are a little harder to come by for the LGBTQ community. When one of the expats in Ulsan, Dorian, suggested hosting a Transgender Day of Remembrance here in our city, I knew I had to be a part of it.
For those of you who don’t know, here is a little history about TDoR:
Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) is recognized every year on November 20 as a way to memorialize those who have been killed because of transphobia and a lack of understanding about the transgender community.
In 1998, Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a trans woman, began the “Remember Our Dead” web project following the murder of Rita Hester, a trans woman of color.
In 1999, the first Transgender Day of Remembrance was held in San Francisco, California with a candlelight vigil and a reading of the names of those who had been lost.
A group of us began meeting via Skype in order to help bring this event to life. We spent several weeks arduously planning the following: speeches, spoken word, poetry, interviews, brochures, flyers, t-shirts, and even an art installation.
Oh, and one of the participants was even gracious enough to translate everything into Korean!
On Saturday, November 21st, at 8PM our event was hosted at Cima Bar. Most of us had been there since 7 to help set up. Folding brochures, hanging posters, setting up tea lights and tables. It was finally happening!
I was so happy to see such a large turnout. Everyone was kind and respectful of the space. There was laughter, and tears, and a range of emotions in between. After the poetry, spoken word, and videos, it was time for the reading of the names.
This was probably the most difficult part of the night. Several speakers began reading the names of the trans individuals who have been killed over the past 18 years, from all over the world. Most of them were younger than I am now. Behind the speakers, I helped cover the window in Post-it notes with all the names as they were being read. The Post-its were the colors of the trans flag.
A huge thanks to Dorian for their vision and for putting on a beautiful event. Additionally, thank you to everyone in the planning crew. I know I don’t know you all very well, but I am grateful to have been part of something so wonderful!