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Montana vigil remembers Colorado shooting victims

Posted at 8:40 AM, Nov 22, 2022

The Transgender Day Of Remembrance has been happening since 1999.

With Colorado shootings, the focus has changed but the concern remains the same in Billings.

"Unfortunately, we lost a transgender male in the Club Q violence and so it's befitting that you know, we are memorializing him," said Charlene Sleeper, LGBTQ activist.

The service in Billings recognized one of the men killed in the shooting at the bar in Colorado Springs.

"We all like feel a communal grief when we lose somebody that's of the community in such a horrific fashion," Sleeper said. "And so a lot of times, we need leadership within a community to step up and be the guidance in terms of grief processing and assisting Just trying to understand the incident."

Sleeper asked Rev. Dwight Welch, the organizer of the remembrance to include one of the men who died in the shooting.

"It became broader and we wanted to include what happened in Club Q as part of the event," said Welch, minister for MSUB United Campus Ministry and an adviser for Out at MSU Billings, an LGBTQ group.

Those at the vigil in Billings say the crime happened close to Transgender Day Of Remembrance, also known as TDOR.

"With this happening on TDOR with a transgender person being murdered in the in the incident and then with it being an LGBTQ club, all signs are pointing to that this was a hate crime," Sleeper said.

"Whenever you see a specific community center of a group targeted, the presumption is because it was that people that they were trying to target," Welch said.

And the message to those attending is the same each year.

"I want them to know that there are resources out there available," Sleeper said. "If they begin to struggle with their own, not only sexual orientation, but gender identity, and to reach for those resources as we're entering especially the holiday season."

"Both kind of that sense of of loss and grief that is involved in a vigil, but I'm hoping people are able to walk away knowing it's within our power to do something," Welch said.