|Equality Texas Executive Director
Dennis Coleman speaks at the
Dallas vigil for Mollie and
The organizers of the Dallas vigil for Mollie Judith Olgin and Mary Khristene Chapa, the young couple attacked in Portland, TX last week, invited Equality Texas Executive Director Dennis Coleman to speak at the vigil, these are his prepared comments.
This is a dark day for our community:
Khristene and Mollie, two young lives: one cut short and the other hanging in the balance.
I wish I could stand before you today and tell you this was unusual, I wish I could tell you that things like this just don’t happen here in the land of the free, home of the brave. I wish I could tell you that these horrific attacks were an aberration, a diversion from the norm… but I can’t.
I can’t tell you that because for the last three years in a row there has been a rise in the murders of LGBT people. I can’t tell you that because young LGBT people are more than twice as likely to be the victims of those attacks as adults. I can’t tell you that because time and time again our schools, our pulpits and our government have sent the message that the lives of LGBT young people have no value, are expendable, or are just not worth our time or concern.
This is a dark day for our community, and it is not the first:
Just this month we lost sixteen year old Brandon Elizares of El Paso to the scourge of bullycide and a family in Arlington was terrorized by kids who’d been taught it was wrong for a family to have two moms.
In May a group of lesbian women in Weir, TX were beaten for daring to order drinks in a straight bar.
In March a 25 year old man in Richland Hills was beaten by his neighbor while being called “faggot” and told he would die from AIDS and Keire Gartica, a college student in Corpus Christi, was brutally beaten and raped while being called homophobic and racial slurs.
The list goes on: from Kristen Cooper of San Antonio, beaten and called homophobic slurs; to Burke Burnett in Paris, TX, cut with broken bottles and thrown screaming onto a bonfire; to Richard Hernandez of Denton, murdered and dismembered.
This is one of many, many dark days for our community... but the dawn comes:
Because this time, this time, we are not alone in our mourning, we are not alone in our anger or our fear. All across the nation and the world people are talking about Mollie and Kristene. People are praying for Kristene’s recovery and for both of their families to find peace. People are putting pressure on the Portland Police and Texas Rangers to take this crime seriously and to find the people responsible.
The sun breaks over the horizon and the storm clouds scatter as around the nation tonight people gather at vigils just like this one and say “enough!”
The glorious rays of justice and equality reign down from heaven as people face those in power and demand that our children, all children, be loved – be they straight, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, gay or any sacred mixture of identities.
The moral arc of the universe is bending around to illuminate this dark day and we, we here assembled, are forcing that long arc, that too too long arc, towards justice.
Don’t leave here tonight thinking the job is done. Don’t leave here thinking the light of justice has reached every corner. Don’t leave here without making a commitment to yourself, to your community, and to those two young girls that you will wake up tomorrow with a renewed resolve to tell your story in the halls of power.
This is a dark day for our community, but the dawn comes, and together, together we can bring it more quickly.