I did not know Amanda Gonzalez-Andujar in her life here, but after meeting and sharing space at a memorial and at a vigil this past Saturday with those who did know her, I felt the love, respect, and pride that her life was reflected back.
The memorial service was held at The Metropolitan Community Church in Midtown Manhattan, a Christian church who primarily ministers to the LGBT community nationwide. Organized by Amanda’s friend Elizabeth M. Rivera-Valentine, the memorial service and vigil were an answer to the transphobic portrayal that Gonzalez-Andujar received in the mainstream press after the 29 year old was found killed in her own apartment in Glendale, Queens. Rivera-Valentine, a health educator with Transcend in Boston, especially wanted to counter the notion that transgender members of our comunidades aren’t loved and don’t have families, actual and/or chosen that care about them and will fight for them. Rivera-Valentine shared how she met Amanda and how struck she was at seeing how supportive Amanda’s family was during her transition and how supportive her community was. Rivera-Valentine then shared a poem about how her own feminine spirit continued to beat the odds and the hate.
After the moving memorial service, which included people speaking on how Amanda’s death was a renewed cry for justice and action in the transgender community and in all communities, people gathered in front of Gonzalez-Andujar’s home in Glendale, where she lived and unfortunately also died.
Transcript after the video. The sound is a little low, apologies for that.
Elizabeth M. Rivera-Valentine :
“I am the former project coordinator of Transjustice of the Audre Lorde Project in Brooklyn, NY. When I found out about the death of my friend Amanda, I could not sit by silently and watch as another girl, another sister from our community, is taken from us and nothing is done about the way she is being projected by media as well as by the NYPD. I wanted to create an opportunity….
Amanda was not only loved by her friends and family but also by her neighboring community. She was very charismatic, very well loved, and was known by many. We knew her by the name Amanda. We respected her as Amanda and loved her as Amanda, those of us that cared for her. Amanda was a daughter, a sister, a cousin, a niece, a friend, a community member.
Tiffany Marie Sanchez, member of GLOBE at Make the Road, NY :
“I am here in support of the transgender community, specifically the Latina transgender community, who has lost a sister and a friend, Amanda Gonzalez Andujar. Amanda and I were raised in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Even though we didn’t hang out together, we knew and respected each other as people of transgender experience who lived in the neighborhood, Amanda living her life as a female and myself in a more fluid way.”
What was made clear by all who spoke at the vigil, was that we are more than our gender identities, our immigration status, our Ethnic and racial identities and yet it is ALL of these things that make us who we are and for some they are also what mark us for hate and violence to be perpetuated against us.
Another concern of Amanda’s friends is the lack of coverage around the memorial and vigil held. Why wasn’t there more media interested in those who knew Amanda speaking about the woman she was? Will the media show up to lap up and spread the gory details of this young woman’s murder and sensationalize once the trial is underway? How much of the media has already forgotten the names of Angie Zapata or Duanna Johnson?