On November 20, it was 30 degrees, so everyone stood around a burn barrel and a firepit with a ledge where we took turns resting our heels. I talked loudly to generate some sort of rotational heat energy in my mouth and chest. One person bent over and pointed his butt into the flames. It looked nice.
Good music can keep 40 people out in the cold.
Mikey Muffins, Foraging and the Rattling Bones, Moon Mountain String Band, and Good Time Traveling Madness played music to jump to, a gift of exercise-induced heat. And the dancing was part of the music: the stomps on the porch, laughing, and dog running with a jingling collar.
The songs were joyful and light. It was a comfort in the frigidity of the weather and the date: the Transgender Day of Remembrance.
Three sisters asked us to stand in silence as they read the names and stories of the 47 murdered transgender and gender non-conforming people in 2021—the deadliest year on record. Like every year. The cold had been uncomfortable, but this was worse. Each name and age and home and loved one’s words and final moments was colder than the whole night. We stood for a long time and listened. No one spoke for a long time after.
When the music finally started again, more people danced than before. The stomping was loudest and the crowd sung back to the singers. I’m not sure if it was a celebration of lives of the dead, or of lives left, but it felt kind, like a pay of respect.