Remembering Christina SantiagoSunday, August 14th, 2011
By now, many of you may have already heard the news about the tragic stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair this past weekend; a devastating accident that claimed the lives of five people and injured dozens more.
What you may not have heard, however, and what we at the NOH8 Campaign have been particularly saddened to discover ourselves, is that one of the five people who died - Christina Santiago - was a NOH8 Supporter and LGBT advocate.
29 year old Christina Santiago and her partner Alisha Marie Brennon attended the NOH8 Campaign's first open photo shoot in Chicago in October of 2010. Alisha, who was one of the dozens injured in the stage collapse, remains hospitalized in critical condition as of Saturday.
Alisha Marie Brennon (left) and Christina Santiago (right) pose together for their NOH8 Campaign photo nearly 1 year ago.
Christina has been described in so many articles we've read as an incredible asset to Chicago's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community - one that will be desperately missed - and our deepest condolences go out to Christina and Alisha's friends and family during this difficult time.
Christina was a program manager at the Howard Brown Health Center's Lesbian Community Care Project. Pictures of Christina can still be seen on the program's website.
Jamal Edwards, president and CEO of Howard Brown, said Santiago and Brennon had been together a little over two years and were inseparable. Brennon did not work at Howard Brown, but she was such a constant presence there she had many friends, he said.
Santiago "was a fierce advocate. She was as brilliant as she was beautiful. She was the greatest advocate for equal health care for all. That love doesn't die, it lives on," Edwards said. "She has been a leading and driving force in the expansion of our women's health services division and a powerful advocate for all LGBT women."
"She's such a hard worker. She normally would be working this weekend, but this happened to be the time that they chose to enjoy together and hear the country music that she loved." - Chicago Tribune, August 15, 2011
We've never had to put together this kind of blog post, and it really hits home. Tragedies like this just illustrate how important it is for couples to have the rights that allow them to celebrate their love and their lives now.
Christina and Alisha were one of the first couples to get a civil union in Cook County when civil unions became legal in Illinois earlier this year. Those who claim the issue of same sex marriages and civil unions can "wait" should think hard about that idea after reading stories like these. This beautiful couple only had a short few months together to celebrate their civil union -- but we take solace in the fact they at least had that opportunity to prove their love to the world, however brief.
Nearly two minutes and forty-five seconds into the video below by WGN News, a candid photo of Christina and Alisha kissing at their NOH8 photo shoot is featured.
For more information about how you can donate to a fund which raises money to defray the expenses incurred by both Christina's passing and Alisha's recovery, please visit this special page set up by Howard Brown's Health Center here.
In the meantime, we again want to send all of our love and support to Alisha, as well as Christina's friends and family. We're so, so sorry for your loss, and we're so honored and proud to be able to count both Christina and Alisha among our family of supporters.
We hope Christina's legacy of activism continues to live on.