Minnesota honors Transgender Day of Remembrance, mourns Colorado shooting victims

While a motive in the shooting at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs is still unclear, the tragedy is bringing pain and heavy emotions to Minnesota’s LGBTQ community.

OutFront Minnesota, the state's largest LGBTQ advocacy organization, already had an event scheduled Sunday to observe Transgender Day of Remembrance featuring local artists, speakers and poets. The packed room at the non-profit LGBTQ+ Quatrefoil Library acknowledged the already difficult day was made even more emotional after what happened in Colorado.

"I think it's especially heavy after the events in Colorado, but I think the need for community is even stronger. Folks are really overjoyed to be here, to see one another, to have that space, to find that sense of community even in the midst of that grief," said Kat Rohn, executive director of OutFront Minnesota.

The event was marked with 411 seconds of silence for the 411 trans lives lost to violence or suicide between Oct. 1, 2021 and Oct. 28, 2022.

"411 less candles burning brightly. We realize that this number is likely higher since many of these deaths go uninvestigated and underreported," said Matt Lewellyn-Otten, also with OutFront Minnesota.

"We want to honor these lives lost and we also want to work to say, ‘It should never happen to anyone ever again,’" said Liz Digitale Anderson, one of the event’s performers.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan each offered their condolences on Twitter for trans lives lost and the Colorado shooting victims writing, "Minnesota must protect our trans and non-binary neighbors" and "to our LGBTQ+ youth: We love you, and we will keep showing up and fighting to keep you safe in Minnesota," respectively. 

Rohn also wanted to highlight the fact that she feels progress is always being made for the LBGTQ community.

"I think that there's a greater understanding and awareness and care for the LGBTQ community. But I think we still see that there's still a lot of hateful rhetoric. There's violence against our community. There's incidents like this that remind us that there's so much more to be done," she said.

She said that work includes making sure bars, schools and cities are safer for people in the LGBTQ community. 

They're invite allies to aid them in that commitment and create cultural change so they don't have to keep mourning members of their community, as they're doing this week for their queer family and neighbors in Colorado.

"There is a real sense of loss because it's so easy to think, ‘Oh, that could happen here. It could happen to any of the people I love. It could happen to me,’ and we don't want to see it happening anymore," Digitale Anderson said.

She also encouraged people to examine their own lives to help make the world safer for people in the LGBTQ community.

"You might not think you know queer people, but maybe they don't feel safe telling you, but if you continue to look at the people in your circles and say, ‘What can I do so that everyone feels radically welcome? What can I do so that everybody I know feels welcomed (and) included?" she said.