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Holding Light

A brief report on the vigil at Out Youth for Norma and Maria Hurtado

By Julie Gillis, 4:00PM, Fri. Apr. 22, 2011

This photo is part of a gallery by Kelly West, published in the Austin American-Statesman's coverage, which is featured as a link in this blog post. Please click on the link in the article to see the gallery of photographs.
This photo is part of a gallery by Kelly West, published in the Austin American-Statesman's coverage, which is featured as a link in this blog post. Please click on the link in the article to see the gallery of photographs.
photo by Austin American-Statesman/Kelly West

I went to the vigil at OutYouth last night for Norma and Maria Hurtado, who were murdered in their home on Thursday.

It was a beautiful event, and a beautiful night, windy and wild, with beautiful, wild, perfect people, all holding light in their hands and in their hearts.

One thing was not beautiful, though, or light.

The reason for the event is a dark scrawl across the canvas of beautiful images.

This horrific murder and yes, a hate crime, born out of a level of pain and fear I've been lucky enough to grow up without, has opened up wounds, many wounds, and has laid new groundwork for scar tissue in an already marked community.

I heard so many questions last night, during a poignant ceremony led in English and Spanish and interpreted for the deaf. Beautiful words by beautiful grieving people, in beautiful diverse languages, all speaking in a rhythm allowing everyone to hear and see and know, questions like, "When will it end?" "Even today?" "How can this happen?"

How and When and Why. Those are questions I feel impotent to answer. My children were there, asking questions of their own. How do I explain that there are people who are so afraid of something I find so right and natural and light? That they find the basic connection between certain people wrong and unnatural and dark. That they find the people themselves, the gay and lesbian, bi and trans, questioning youth and allies a dark mark on their worlds.

I don't know how to explain that. I am not religious at all, but I am reminded that this is Passion Week. A week of rebirth and of hope and compassion.

I don't want to call Mr. Aviles evil, but I do think his light has been shadowed by something dark, something I don't understand and am trying to find that compassion for.

Compassion is hard, I think, and to find compassion does not mean to let go of justice, nor does it require complacency in the face of oppression, nor to find suffering a beautiful thing.

I keep coming back to this timely, if not obviously religious, sermon I found earlier this week on the Slog, the Seattle Stranger's blog.

And then there are the words of Camille DePrang, from the Austin American-Statesman's coverage of the tragedy: "'The way she looked at me was like she was telling me she knew already, and I feel gratitude now for that,' DePrang said. "I was looking forward to some random time that I would run into Norma and jokingly say, 'How could you mess with me like that?' and then on the other hand I'd thank her because I will never be in the closet again." May that sermon, and these words, fill us with a deep courage to continue to be exactly who we are. Strong and beautiful and filled with light.

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