The Beginning of Las Vegas TransPride
Jamie Lee Sprague-Ballou
The development of Las Vegas TransPride has been an ongoing thought since November 20th, 2003. This is the day that I attended my first Transgender Day of Remembrance, which was held on the campus of University of Nevada, Las Vegas. It was only four months after I started my hormone treatments, while in the beginning phase of my spiritual call to transition.
It was a cold, damp and drizzly evening outside as we gathered for the candle light vigil. There were about eight to ten of us gathered to remember those who were killed in hate crimes throughout the year. A few words were spoken before we started to read the names of the victims that were being honored. Each of us gathered participated in the reading of the twenty to thirty names that were remembered that year.
One of the names that I had the privilege to read was the name of Gwen Araujo, who was brutally murdered on October 3, 2002. I am not sure why her name was read in 2003, since her death occurred in October 2002 and would normally have been read on November 20th of that year of 2002. I believe this was the first time this vigil was held on the campus and the individual who organized the event included her name because of the press coverage that occurred over the injustice of her death and her name was visible in the media.
As I read Gwen's name, I received an inner voice that said, I would carry the voices of these individuals. Of course at that time, I didn't know how this would come about. After that year, I did not see or hear of another vigil being held to remember the victims of hate crimes and yet this was a national event that occurs every year around the 20th of November.
So finally, in 2006, I approached my church, Metropolitan Community Church about organizing and hosting the event at our church. Permission was granted and I started hosting and organizing the Transgender Day of Remembrance Vigil each year in Las Vegas.
In 2010, Gender Justice Nevada, a non-profit organization in Las Vegas which advocates and fights for the rights of Transgender individuals in Las Vegas, approached me and inquired about combining the Transgender Day of Empowerment along with the Transgender Day of Remembrance. That year we started a two day event on Friday and Saturday with the Transgender Day of Remembrance and the Day of Empowerment following consecutively.
For several years, I have been pondering on trying to broaden the event to incorporate different segments to make the event a week long, which would meet the different needs of the Transgender community here in Las Vegas. Last year The LGBT Center of Southern Nevada, offered to help host the event by offering space and covering cost for prominent keynote speakers. November 2013, became the first year to have an official five day event, thus leading to the name Las Vegas TransPride.