Honoring Nex Benedict

Candlelight Vigil for Nex Benedict

Sunday, March 3, 2024  •  4:30 - 5:30 pm

Plainfield Recreation Field  •  28 Recreation Field Road, Plainfield, VT

Hosted by the central Vermont community, with Outright Vermont, Pride Center of Vermont, Out in the Open, and Rainbow Bridge Community Center.

For more information, contact: jake@weareoutintheopen.org

All of us at Outright are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of 16-year-old Nex Benedict (they/them) following an assault in the bathroom of their Oklahoma high school.

We are touched to know more about Nex, who was born in El Paso, Texas, was out to friends and at school as nonbinary, and was a Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma citizen. The Pgh Lesbian Correspondents states: 

“According to the obituary, Nex was a nature lover. They enjoyed caring for cats but particularly loved their cat, Zeus. Nex also enjoyed watching the Walking Dead, drawing, reading, and playing Ark and Minecraft. During the funeral, their family said they loved to cook and would often make up their own recipes. Nex was also a straight-A student.”
From us to Nex:

You deserved a world that honored and celebrated your spirit, your creativity, and your love. You were and are beautiful just as you. You will live on in our hearts and minds as a truth seeker. Thank you for living authentically. Thank you for the bravery it took to do so in a climate making it increasingly harder to do just that. In honor of your courage and strength, we promise to keep on fighting for a world where all LGBTQ+ youth have boundless possibilities for the very joy tragically stolen from you. Hate will never win. Together, we will rise with and alongside you.

From us to you:

The brutal and tragic loss of Nex in Oklahoma was not covered by the mainstream media, and went nearly unnoticed if not for the determination of Pgh Lesbian Correpondents and members of various social media channels to fully honor Nex’s life. Their voices brought to light the posthumous and continued harassment of Nex in the media and their obituary through continued misgendering and the lack of use of their chosen name.

It’s not lost on us that Oklahoma lawmakers introduced 40 bills limiting TGNC, QTBIPOC, and other LGBTQ+ Oklahomans’ healthcare access, inclusion in schools, and options for self-expression in the 2023 legislative session. It is one of the seven states that ban transgender people from using bathrooms and facilities consistent with their gender identity in K-12 schools, and lawmakers recently passed two other pieces of anti-trans legislation targeting youth in schools.

We know that the bullying and harassment that Nex endured, the isolation they experienced, and the continued attempts to erase Nex’s essence is a direct result of hate and fear stoked by a failure to protect TGNC, QTBIPOC, and other LGBTQ+ youth. Let us be clear that this failure is driven by a culture of white supremacy and queer and trans antagonism, the intentional discrimination, harassment, bullying, and/or violence perpetrated against a queer or trans person.

In these brutal and heart-wrenching moments, we find solace in community, knowing that we will - and must - continue to double down on our commitment to safe and supportive families, schools, and communities for all.

Here are some resources on how to talk about this tragedy.

  • Crisis or Talk Lines. If you or someone you care about is having a hard time coping or has unsafe feelings or thoughts, we encourage you to direct them to one of the following crisis resources.
  • Supporting Youth. Don’t hide this reality from youth. With the reality of social media, it’s likely that, at least peripherally, youth may hear about this death. If you don’t know how to begin, take a look at this resource on supporting youth after a violent death.
  • Let youth lead: Move at their pace. If they ask questions, be honest. You can share that a non-binary student has died, that the media got it wrong, that what Nex experienced should never have happened, and that it’s really sad and scary. Assure them you are here for them. Show them with your engagement. Ask things like, “How do you feel? What do you think about when you hear this news?
  • Take special care with trans youth. Check in with the folks in your life who hold the same identities as Nex. Be gentle, truthful, and offer connections that affirm, respect, and reflect their truth and the goodness of who they are.
  • Handling With Care. This toolkit is not designed for crisis response, however, it is designed to offer you best practices, supportive resources, and an introduction to a community of affirming parents and caregivers.

Outright is here for you, now and always. Peace and condolences to all as we mourn Nex’s death, and fight like hell for the living.