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Vigil held at Bergfeld Park honoring victims of anti-LGBTQ+ gun violence

"It's heartbreaking to see that more people like you are being killed," said Sam Parks, President of East Texas Trans Youth.

TYLER, Texas — It’s been three days since the mass shooting at a Club Q in Colorado Springs. The LGBTQ+ club was targeted by a gunman who killed five victims and injured 25 others. 

This touched the hearts of many LGBTQ+ community members across the nation including those in East Texas. 

A vigil held at Bergfeld Park on Wednesday to honor the victims of anti-LGBTQ+ gun violence. 

Candlelight illuminated the park as many gathered to express their fear, anger, and distress on gun violence across the country.

President of East Texas Trans Youth Sam Parks identifies as a transgender man. He said he couldn't stop crying after hearing about attack at Club Q. 

"It's heartbreaking to see that more people like you are being killed," Parks said. 

The shooting in Colorado Springs hit close to home for many East Texans including Jay Hilburn with Tyler Area Gays.

"Most people who go out in public don't know what's going to happen," Hilburn said. "There were people that were afraid to come out tonight. We have several events throughout the month, and we're going to relook at our venues and make sure that we're safe."

The community gathered at a memorial plaque for Nicholas West in Bergfeld Park a victim of anti-gay gun violence in Tyler.

The 29th anniversary of West's death is next Wednesday and according to the Tyler Morning Telegraph west was abducted in Tyler, beaten, robbed, and killed in a claypit in Noonday. 

But even in the darkness there was candlelight shining over the East Texas LGBTQ+ community. 

"Often in this little town we feel like we're just such a small little niche group and we're really not," said Bean Castaneda, president of Transgender Equality Network ETX. "We're all over this town and we have allies, and we have people who truly do care for us and want us to be safe and healthy and alive."

If you identify with the LGBTQ+ community in East Texas the many organizations say they are ready to offer a safe space and hope to continue to spread acceptance.

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