VCU Police and Richmond TDOR team up for tree planting to commemorate lives lost to anti-LGBTQ violence
This Friday, March 31st, VCU Police and Richmond’s Transgender day of Remembrance will unite for a tree planting to commemorate the lives of those lost to anti-LGBTQ violence. Similar tree planting ceremonies have occurred around the city at places like Diversity Richmond and on University of Richmond’s campus (top image via RVA TDOR).
Below is an OpEd from RVA TDOR Founder and organizer Kenneth Decker. In it he explains why the ceremony has power and were its inspiration comes from.
Anyone and everyone is invited to come down this Friday 2-3 PM to the parking lot at VCU’s Police station – 224 East Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia – for the commemoration ceremony. VCU Police Chief John Venuti will be attendance along with Decker and other organizers. Light refreshments will follow. Please RSVP here!
Check out more from Decker below:
The late Dr. Thomas Hoving, former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, had a significant influence on my life and career. To this day, much of my approach to non-profit governance and media coverage are influenced by his mentor-ship.
The centennial of the Met, with its attendant celebrations, occurred during Dr. Hoving’s tenure there. During the 18-month long stream of events marking the occasion, Hoving claimed the exhibition, The Year 1200, as “his” show. (By training, Hoving was a Medievalist- the 20 years on either side of the year 1200 was marked by an artistic and cultural flowering of unequaled to that time, comparable in many ways to a mini- Renaissance). Artistic treasures from throughout Europe were placed on loan to the Met for that exhibition.
In many ways, I see one particular portion of Richmond, VA’s observance of the 2010 Transgender Day of Remembrance as The “Year 1200″ relative to my life and career. That event is the planting of a Southern Magnolia on the grounds of the Gay Community Center of Richmond, as a memorial to the lives lost to anti-transgender violence.
Having lost a lover to hate violence, it was perhaps natural for much of my activism to be focused on that particular issue.
Coupled with my frustration that many people, upon realizing I’m gay, have stated, “Wow, I would’ve thought you were straight,” the Transgender Day of Remembrance seemed a perfect fit, since my relative safety through all these years may be due in part to my not looking “gay” enough to be perceived as a potential target. Accordingly, I’ve participated in the TDOR within every community in which I’ve resided since the Day’s inception. When observances haven’t been a part of the community, I’ve brought it into being.
The role of trees in my life and career actually predates my conscious memory. My great aunts, Blanche and Barbara, sustained a generations-long tradition of planting a tree on their property to mark the births of my cousins, half-siblings and myself; sadly, this ended a few years after Aunt Blanche’s death. Earlier this year, on the grounds of Sharon Hospital, in Connecticut, this tradition took a different turn, with the planting of a Tidal Basin Cherry Blossom as a memorial to Aunt Ruth, my grandmother’s eldest sister, who had served as a nurse at Sharon for many years.
One regret Dr. Hoving had concerning The Year 1200 was the discovery of the figure of Christ which originally adorned the Bury St. Edmunds Cross (an ornate altar cross in walrus ivory, acquired by The Cloisters on Hoving’s recommendation while working as an entry level curator; that acquisition was the turning point in his career, eventually propelling him to the directorship of the Met). Placed on loan for the exhibition by the Oslo Museum, it was hoped the Met could purchase the Christ figure; approval on both sides went along well, until the final vote by the board of trustees, which rejected the acquisition.
My regret concerning a previous project fueled my passion to bring the planting of the Magnolia to fruition.
In 1992, my third lover, a professional artist, created a drawing for reproduction, the proceeds from the sale of which were to benefit the Center for Seniors and the Disabled at Newington, CT. The theme of the fund drive was “Independence Through Community Support.”
The basis of the drawing was the row of elm trees planted by Newington resident and Revolutionary War general Roger Welles, in commemoration of the winning of that war. Known as The Independence Elms, they eventually succumbed to blight. The drawing and attendant publicity inspired many ideas and programs, including the establishment of The Minuteman Brigade, the nation’s first non-profit agency serving jointly the needs of seniors and the disabled.
One stated goal of The Brigade (which I served as a founding board member) was the replanting of The Independence Elms.
Descendants of General Welles offered us use of a portion of their land to plant the seedlings and everything seemed to be in place. Somehow, that part of the project was never fulfilled. That always, bothered me, but now, nearly 20 years later through the support of PFLAG Richmond and the cooperation of the Center, along with the good will of more than a dozen other agencies and organizations, I feel a certain sense of personal vindication through the planting and dedication of this tree.
“RVA’s commitment to acceptance and diversity has planted this tree today.”March 31, 2017
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