GLENS FALLS -- As the Sunday afternoon sun dropped below the horizon and the chilly temperatures dipped into the 30s, a quiet gong chimed 40 times as a circle of people stood, holding candles, next to the bandstand behind Crandall Library.
Time and again, a quiet voice read someone’s name, then explained how the person – who was transgender or supported transgender people – had been murdered in the past year.
Each time a name was read, Christopher Argyros of the Empire State Pride agenda, tapped the gong, sending a note into the evening.
The memorial service came at the halfway point of a Transgender Day of Remembrance sponsored by the Pride Agenda and the Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Council. The first part of the event was held at the Crandall Library and included five speakers. It was followed by the vigil, which was officiated by the Rev. Philip Richards of Christ Church United Methodist Church. A reception at LARAC followed the vigil.
Transgender remembrance days have been held for 14 years, and a similar event, also sponsored by the Pride Agenda, will be held Tuesday, Nov. 20, in Albany.
“This is a good turnout,” Argyros said. “We are really glad to reach out to Glens Falls this year.”
Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward (R-Willsboro), who represents the 113th District and is stepping down in January, was among the speakers, as were the mothers of two transgender individuals and a transgender man.
“There was not a dry eye in the house,” LARAC’S Candice Frye said of the talk by Mary Moss, who is the mother of a 14-year-old transgender boy. “Her story touched everyone.”
Janet Cordes, whose daughter Drew is a former Glens Falls resident, spoke about her family’s experiences, and Stephani Krzysik, a transgender woman spoke about her life’s journey. The final speaker was a teen-age transgender boy.
At the vigil, the Rev. Richards reflected on the importance of people to be able to be themselves and wondered out loud why others couldn’t accept that.
“The best thing people can do for the world is to be themselves. We are all different, but we all have a common bond.” He said. “We all want to be loved. You should love yourself first.
“Why are people so threatened by transgender folks?” he asked. “Why are people ridiculed? Why are people harassed, even killed just for who they are? Haven’t we evolved?”