Heavy hearts on Transgender Day of Remembrance in Chicago after mass shooting at LGBTQ+ club

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Monday, November 21, 2022
LGBTQ+ community stands together for Transgender Day of Remembrance 2022 amid wake of mass shooting
Now, there is a louder call to action as advocates say this community needs more than allies, but accomplices in their fight for justice.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Organizers in Chicago's Andersonville are honoring trans activist Elise Malary for Transgender Day of Remembrance 2022. They took a moment of silence for those killed and injured in the Colorado Springs mass shooting this weekend.

The shooting brought out emotions of fear and anger among the LGBTQ+ community, but also a show of solidarity and support for those in Colorado Springs.

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The impact of the tragic shooting is pain felt here in Chicago.

"We know that pain. Eight years ago when they took my daughter's life," said one couple at the event.

Leaders and supporters within the LGBTQ+ community stood together to share their support and share their sorrow over the lives lost.

"We are sending a message to them that we stand with you in unity," said Dawn Valenti.

"We woke up knowing it was going to be a day of remembrance, so we already had heavy hearts, and then you wake up to find out that five more family members are taken from you," said Alderman Andre Vasquez, 40th Ward.

One of the speakers, who once called Colorado their home, said the brutal shooting that took place in the Colorado Springs on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance, happened at what was supposed to be a safe space for the LGBTQ community.

"Here, they have this one bar, this one place they could go to where they felt safe and strong and to have shattered is just heartbreaking," said Jim Bennett, the Illinois Department of Human Rights director.

They said this community cannot continue to have safe spaces violated.

"We are not as safe as we deserve to be in this country, and even in this state and in this city," said Brian Johnson, the CEO of Equality Illinois.

"It's unacceptable and we need to do better, Chicago. We need to lead by example and show the United States, what kind of city our cities should look like," said Iggy Ladden.

The group then took a time to pause to honor those lives lost and injured, forever changed, by the shooting.

This followed an emotional hour of speakers honoring the life and work of Evanston woman and transgender rights advocate, Elise Malary, and the influence and legacy she left behind.

RELATED: Chicago transgender community faces uphill battle for justice amid 'epidemic of violence'

Now, there is a louder call to action as advocates say this community needs more than allies, but accomplices in their fight for justice.

"This is not only a day of remembrance, it's a day of resilience and its a day of saying even when we're under attack, we fight back," Ald. Vasquez said.