Oct 202010
Authors: Alexandra Sieh

In the flickering lights of candles, solemn faces looked to the ground as the names of those GLBT students who have committed suicide in the past months echoed through Monfort Quad Wednesday.

From Tyler Clementi at Rutgers University to Corey Jackson of Oakland University, those lost to suicide were remembered by attendees at the walking candlelight vigil. They were just some of the hundreds of people lost to suicide in past years.

Holding her purple handkerchief, a color of spirit for the GLBT community, Lindsay Melsen asked the crowd to remember who and what it was that brought them there that night.

For those recently deceased and others not known about, Melsen, the director of adult programs and education at the Lambda Community Center, said she felt her grief freely that night, feeling sadness but also concern for the GLBT community.

Gay “and proud of it,” Melsen said she rarely lives with fear, finding comfort in her community and beliefs.

But the fear that she has felt in the past few weeks has been “more than I’ve ever felt,” she said.
“Whether gay or straight,” she said, “we all have something to be scared about.”

And in the wake of a series of suicides and instances of school bullying, Melsen, along with the other speakers that night, said they hoped this show of community would inspire action, not only in the GLBT community but also among their allies.

Jesus Duran, the secretary of the Student Organization of GLBT at CSU, spoke about the spirit of purple, a color students wore that day in a show of support.

The spirits of those lost and those still fighting, their loss, he said, should be what inspires action.

“Allow their spirits to fill you with the motivation to change the world,” Duran said.

“I hope (those in attendance) take away that we are able to come together with a cause as a community,” said Devon Aimes, a member of SOGLBT at CSU. “We love each other. We are family.”

In their walk toward Lambda Community Center, people joined hands and linked arms, holding their candles in a “visual statement” of their hope and remembrance, as Melsen said.

Singing and taking pictures together, the event brought grief and community together in a tribute to GLBT strength and unity.

And for Jess Cytron, the president of SOGLBT and one of the event’s coordinators, the vigil led those who walked toward a center that gives them a safe place to show their emotions and face their struggles with those who can relate.

“I want our community to feel charged,” she said. “I want them to get involved and know how to seek out safe places.”

“They need to find a place for hope.”

An idea paramount to the GLBT community, hope filled the speeches of those leaders who spoke at the vigil, a guidepost they hoped to impart to attendees.

For Melsen, she said where there isn’t safety, there’s hope.

And it’s hope that Foula Dimopoulos, the director of the GLBT Resource Center at CSU, said should always be present in this community.

“Hope can never be silenced,” she said, her words reverberating through the crowd standing along Mason Street outside Lambda.

“The No. 1 way to keep a community oppressed is to keep them silent,” said Shannon Masden from One Colorado, an organization designed to protect and represent the GLBT community in Colorado.

“We need to be out,” she said, insisting that it is the voice of the GLBT community that will one day gain it further acceptance.

“Go forward and speak your truth.”

For Britney Brightwell, vice president of SOGLBT, the faces in the crowd were like the candles they held before them.

“Like these candles are all the same, we are all the same,” she said. “Together we’ll shine so bright and beautiful.”

_Design Editor and Copy Chief Alexandra Sieh can be reached at news@collegian.com. _

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