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    Reflecting on the Life and Death of Bryan “Feather Lynn” Higgins

    1-PHOTO-David Campos-USE THIS ONE-_mg_5338_highres_copyImages of intolerance and hatred filled the media this week. We have witnessed the militarization of a police force against its people in Ferguson, Missouri, as they rioted against perceived racial prejudices. Yet, as we scrutinize the violence steeped in hatred throughout the country that is seeping into the public eye, we must also acknowledge that a tragedy occurred in our own community this month.

    In a city celebrated for its diversity and in a neighborhood that stands as a beacon for tolerance and freedom, we witnessed a heinous act of violence. Today, I would be remiss not to remember and reflect on the death of Bryan “Feather Lynn” Higgins—a creative, free-spirited individual who has too soon left us.

    Feather Lynn fell victim to attackers on August 17, 2014. Feather Lynn was a member of the Radical Faerie community—a community dedicated to gentleness, peace and spiritualism. As I write this, questions remain as to the identity of his attackers and their motives. Police are unsure of the circumstances leading to the attack, and no arrests have been made.

    Hundreds of friends and neighbors came together at Duboce Park to celebrate Feather Lynn’s life on Wednesday, August 13, when he was removed from life-support at San Francisco General Hospital. A second vigil organized by the Restorative Justice Ministry for Victims and Survivors of Violent Crimes of the Archdiocese of San Francisco was held on Monday, August 18, to bless the land—both to aid in the process of healing and to ask that no further violence occur.

    Our city is in the midst of enormous change but, as change occurs, we’re losing sight of what has made us special, what’s made us San Francisco. We are a city built upon difference. Ours is a place that embraces hope. I struggle with so many of the challenges facing our city. I see the immigrant children fleeing their countries to find refuge here, our sisters seeking reproductive health care despite facing demeaning protesters, and our elders in fear of losing affordable care. Each day I ask myself, if we can’t fight for our most vulnerable here, then where will they find refuge, where will they find strength? It is here in San Francisco that we must transcend beyond race, gender, identity, sexual orientation and social class. We must be the example. We must embody the hope to which all other places can aspire.

    In the aftermath of this violence, my thoughts are with Feather Lynn, his family and friends, the Faeries, and the entire queer community. Out of this tragedy, we must reassert our commitments. Our work and movement isn’t over until everyone is safe in their communities and we can live our lives without threat of violence. Let us honor the lives of those lost to violence by reaffirming our commitment to equality and justice. No heinous act of prejudice will set us back. We must stand together and fight for our values, our communities and our City, or we all are at risk of losing the freedoms we have fought so hard to obtain.

    David Campos is a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors representing District 9. This column for the “SF Bay Times” was inspired by Harvey Milk’s efforts to build a coalition of what Milk termed “us’es,” meaning communities that value diversity and attempt to leave no one behind. For more information about Supervisor Campos and his work, please visit http://www.sfbos.org/index.aspx?page=2117