FOR the first time since its inception in 1994, TT’s annual Pride Memorial was held online owing to the covid19 pandemic.
The event was hosted by non-government organisations Friends For Life and The Alliance for Justice and Diversity on Sunday evening at 6 pm via Zoom – a video-conferencing application. It was also streamed live on Facebook.
The event was originally called the AIDS Memorial which was a day dedicated to remembering members of the LGBTQ+ community who died owing to complications with HIV/AIDS. But in 1996, it became Pride Memorial, which would mark the beginning of a week of activities.
On the day, photos, art, et cetera, of loved ones are placed on a wall, candles are lit, and a ceremony is held.
In a video presentation, Friends for Life social worker Luke Sinnette said there was a “deep shame” associated with dying from HIV/AIDS complications, and that the Pride Memorial came at a time where “our LGBTQ+ folk, mainly trans men and trans women, were dying at alarming rates.
“We’d ask, ‘Hey, what about so and so?’ only to find out they had died alone, (with) no friends, no family there to support them. In the 1990s, it was a big secret to be gay, and many families either scorned their dead relatives and did not know they were gay – much less HIV positive.”
He said the memorial also honours those who died by other means, adding that the LGBTQ+ community has “seen its fair share of murder.”
He said, too often these instances are brushed off as “lovers’ quarrels” and reports say “the victim was known to the perpetrator,” to further emphasize.
The names of the late members of the local community were then displayed in an on-screen video sequence, and many said they were still moved to tears despite the celebrations being digital.
Everyone then lit a candle and ensured it was displayed within the frame of the Zoom application.
President of the TT Transgender Coalition Brandy Rodriguez said Pride Memorial has always been emotional for her.
“I have always held this memory close to my heart because it talks a lot about the work that I do. This stigma, discrimination, the barriers we all have to carry on our shoulders and the burdens we always have to walk with, still we have the churches fighting humans. We are still humans at the end of the day. I want us to be strong.”
Among those honoured were late theatre personalities Raymond Choo Kong and Gregory Singh, activists Sasha Fierce, Deni James and Stacy Charles.