PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - A well-known activist in the LGBT community passed away last week and was memorialized Tuesday. He was only 37 years old when he died leaving his friends and colleagues dealing with the dark feeling of loss. Today Bill Anderson went to the celebration of his life and found a community committed to finding light by continuing his legacy….For Goodness Sake
It was a tough year in Philadelphia for members of the LGBT community. From racism in the bar scene to battles over who can use a bathroom, to citywide hearings. But Tuesday, the city celebrated a life of someone who made a difference in the 37 short years that he lived.
“We love him and we’re gonna miss him but his legend, he is a legend, an icon and he will not be forgotten. I won’t forget him," Francesca Williams told FOX 29.
Tuesday was the funeral of HIV/Aids activist and general advocate for the LGBT community Chris Collins. It was about him but also about how he represented many in his community. His struggle for 20 plus years of his life was showing people that regardless of how they felt politically his community deserved a chance to live.
“There are generations of people who were his age who are now in the field because of him and people who have stayed in the field and helped change the field because of his influence. The way HIV prevention exists in Philadelphia stands on the shoulders of Christopher Collins," said Louis Ortiz-Fonseca Activist.
Being an activist isn’t a high paid career and the loved ones of someone serving others sadly don’t always have the money to bury their own. The community responded immediately. $12,000 was raised in 5 days and sent the message that people did care and appreciated his efforts.
“I have been reached out to from California to Maine and anywhere in between. That he had an impact and he’s still having an impact on quite a few of them," said his mother, Veronica Collins.
So why is the passing of one LGBT activist important on a larger scale? Chris died while trying to get society to respect his community. But unfortunately one or a handful of voices are often easier to ignore, but when you see the strength of their support.
His friends and family told FOX 29's Bill Anderson that Chris represented a community of people just wanting to get dinner, a job, a safe place to live and the medical resources they need, without being discriminated against.
Their hope is that maybe in death Chris’s message of safety, responsibility and support will reach people in and outside of the LGBT community who need to hear it and consider the larger impact of their decisions? For Goodness Sake.