Select Board member Eric Helmuth at Nov. 20 vigil. / Helen Newberg photoSelect Board member Eric Helmuth at Nov. 20 vigil. / Helen Newberg photo

Select Board member Eric Helmuth made it personal.

At the board's Nov. 21 meeting, he shared that he and his husband “were honored” to attend the Arlington vigil observing the Transgender Day of Remembrance held the previous evening. 

That event took place on the lawn of the First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church and was sponsored by the town’s Rainbow Commission, Human Rights Commission and Disability Commission.

Transgender Day of Remembrance takes place annually on Nov. 20. The day is marked by events around the globe honoring transgender and gender-diverse people who have lost their lives to violence motivated by bias.

Transgender Day of Remembrance grew out of the reaction of greater Boston’s LGBTQIA+ community to the 1988 murder of Boston resident Rita Hester and the media’s reporting about the event, which included misgendering Hester in its coverage.

At the board meeting, Helmuth said, “In light of that horrifying event in Colorado Springs this weekend, I’d like to read a slightly expanded version of my remarks from last night."

On Nov. 20, he said: "Tonight, just four hours from now, LGBTQ people and their allies in Colorado Springs were planning to observe Transgender Day of Remembrance at the Club Q nightclub. Instead, they are reeling from a violent, deadly attack in that vibrant, diverse and friendly space."

To the board, he added: "... an attack that injured and killed members of the queer community, their friends and allies.Selectboard logo, May 20, 2019

“Amid a fresh round of rage and grief, it is hard to know what to feel and think, and it’s even harder to know what to say. But words matter. Speaking our truth matters. Living our truth matters more than ever in moments like this that shake us.

“We don’t know much yet about the twisted mind of the shooter, but we know what is happening around this country. The rights and visibility of the LGBTQ community are the latest political wedge in the culture wars.

“Politicians and pundits are spreading lies and fear about us: to score cheap political points, to gain power, to deflect the blame for social and economic problems onto innocent people who just want to live our lives.

“Words matter. The words of these morally bankrupt individuals have fanned the flames of fear and hate, fueling a rise in threats and violence against members of this community, especially transgender people and their families, including right here in eastern Massachusetts.

“We mourn and honor the memory of those who have lost their lives to this violence. But, we also honor and celebrate the resilience of the amazing Arlington residents who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, allies and more. People who are so much more than that acronym.

“And to that community, I say this: The town of Arlington is committed to seeing you, supporting you and protecting you. We stand with you against the hate and lies, we honor the courage it takes to speak, and to live the simple truth about who you are, and we will do our very best to make Arlington a safe and welcoming place.” 

Watch the Nov. 21 meeting on ACMi:

Nov. 21, 2022: Vigil supports Transgender Day as violence echoes in Boston, U.S. 


This news summary by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert was published Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022.

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