In Memory of Dr. Gary Jenkins
We arrived to find ourselves at the back of a silent crowd of hundreds stretching from the museum steps to Gorsedd Gardens. Wet weather and wind hadn’t put off Cardiff’s Queer community and its allies from paying their respects to Dr Gary Jenkins, the man murdered in a brutal homophobic attack in the city’s Bute Park. The trial of his killers ended only days ago, with all three of them found guilty. It’s a crime that has shocked, saddened and angered us in equal measure, but last night’s vigil was an opportunity for those of us who didn’t know him personally to hear from those who did, in speeches that were powerful and moving. We listened to the testaments of friends, colleagues and patients, whose words painted the picture of a kind and caring man whose loss we can hardly begin to fathom. As a festival that exists to celebrate Queer stories from around the world, many of us on Team Iris find ourselves reflecting on a tragedy that is all-too real and very close to home. Our day-to-day outreach work allows us to work with local groups who we know have been every bit as shocked and saddened by this mindless act of hate. If there’s one positive thing I took away from last night it’s a sense that we are never more powerful than when we come together, sharing our stories, and listening to others’, and with that in mind we'll approach this year's festival with a renewed sense of purpose. I can only end this by offering our most sincere condolences to Gary Jenkins’ loved ones, to his family, his friends and colleagues, hoping that he may forever rest in power.