Today, we are candles.
It is not an easy time to be us. Every year we have more people to remember. Every year we face down the horror of being the only ones who remember, as the rest of the world insists on remembering only the people it wished we would keep pretending to be, or no one at all. We go forgotten, holding on to truth when others bury lies, a determined skein holding one last memory: You were here. We were here. You mattered to us. And we will not forget.
Today, boys who have nothing to be proud of and men who deserve every fist and women who think this is a superhero’s calling are marching. Their goals are many, every one noisome and evil, and among them is a thousand more Chyna Doll Duprees and Leelah Alcorns and Jamie Lee Wounded Arrows. They carry torches, oily and blinding, because they know the power of darkness. They know that darkness is where resistance happens, where community happens, where truth happens, and they know that it is our friend, not theirs. They are too used to torchlight, bright, hazy, undefined, the worst, most useless light. They know not what we can do.
Yet even in their hideous light, there is hope. Few can ignore what transpired in the United States earlier this month, as a slew of us deposed bigoted monsters and ascended to public office. New Zealand has begun accepting transgender refugees from the United Kingdom, where our most determined attackers have made their base. Every year, more of us find ourselves, more of us name ourselves, more of us rise in the crashing crescendo of we will not be ignored, and we will not be silenced. They march, in no small part, because they fear what more of us will come out of the dark to meet them, and tell them that their world is ending and our world is already being born.
Today, we remember Ciara McElveen. Today, we remember Kenneth Bostick. Today, we remember Josie Berrios. Today, we remember dozens and dozens that the rest of this hateful world would rather forget, and give each other the comfort that no one else will. Today, we surround ourselves with the select few who understand the burden of our mortality, and today we summon hope for a future when we can lay it down.
Today, we see their torches and raise them candles. Today, we bring this flicker of warm hope into the darkness where we live our secret days, and counter their hateful fire with a starscape of succor and remembrance. Today, we claim both the dark, and the light.
Today, we are candles.