Clockwise from left: Melanie Vaughn, Bill Lowe, Leslie Jordan, Nichelle Nichols, Thierry Mugler, and Chuck Colbert Courtesy photos

People We’ve Lost in 2022: Victims of Violence, LGBTQ+ Celebrities, and Notable Allies

There’s a Jewish proverb: “What soap is for the body, tears are for the soul.” The LGBTQ community suffered many tragedies in 2022, and it’s important to grieve the tragedies of senseless violence carried out against members of the LGBTQ+ community. The Human Rights Campaign reports, “Nearly 1 in 5 of any type of hate crime is now motivated by anti-LGBTQ+ bias.” The most devastating example of such violence in 2022 was a mass shooting that took five lives on Nov. 20 at Club Q in Colorado Springs.

On November 20–Transgender Day of Remembrance–news broke of a mass shooting in Colorado Springs, CO, at LGBTQ+ club Club Q. Five lives were taken, including two transgender individuals, Daniel Aston, 28, and Kelly Loving, 40. The victims, including Ashley Pugh, 35; Derrick Rump, 38; and Raymond Green Vance, 22, are deeply missed and remembered by friends and family.

That night, patrons visited Club Q for a drag performance and a night of fun when a lone gunman opened fire for six minutes before father and club performer Richard Fierro helped to subdue the shooter. The attacker killed five people and left nineteen others injured.

The Human Rights Campaign reported 35 transgender and gender non-conforming lives were lost to violence in 2022. The group reported a heartbreaking number of at least 57, a record number,  lives of trans and gender-nonconforming people were taken. Unfortunately, these numbers are likely underreported due to a lack of proper identification as transgender or gender non-conforming by media, police, or others.

Below, the 35 victims are remembered for their bravery and authenticity.

Diamond Jackson-McDonald, 27, is remembered as a proud Black trans woman, a loving person, and “a gem.” Linda Jackson, Diamond’s mother, told the local publication Philly Voice: “I just want the world to know that Diamond was my rock, my shoulder, my child whom I love with every inch of me of what I have left to give.” Diamond’s life ended on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24, when she was shot and killed in Philadelphia.

No arrests for Diamond’s death have been made, but anyone with information about her death can contact the Philadelphia police tip line: (215) 686-8477.

Daniel Aston, 28, was a trans man and one of two transgender people killed on Nov. 20 in the Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs. A well-known bartender at Club Q, he was “letting loose [and] sliding across the stage.” Daniel worked hard to entertain patrons and make Club Q a welcoming space. His parents described Daniel as “the happiest he had ever been.”

Kelly Loving, 40, was a trans woman and one of two transgender people killed on Nov. 20 in the Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs. Her sister, Tiffany, described Kelly as loving, stating she was “always trying to help the next person out instead of thinking of herself. She just was a caring person.”

Tiffany Banks, 25, always put others before herself, and her friends and family described her as “a sociable and beautiful butterfly.” Tiffany was a Black trans woman who loved to sing and dance, and when she was around, there was “never a dull moment.”

Tiffany was killed in Miami on Oct. 1 and is reported as the fourth victim of violence against Black transgender people in Florida this year, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Her death follows Semaj Billingslea, Nedra Sequence, and Duval Princess.

Semaj Billingslea, 33, was a Black trans man from Jacksonville, FL, who loved Megan Thee Stallion and cherished his friendships. He graduated from Florida Youth Academy and attended Florida State College in Jacksonville. Semaj was shot in Jacksonville on Sept. 21 outside a motel in Argyle Forest. He was found alive but later died from his injuries at the hospital. Semaj’s death is the third known death of a Black transgender person in Florida this year. He is remembered alongside Nedra Sequence, Duval Princess, and Tiffany Banks.

The Jacksonville Sherriff’s Office asks that anyone with information contact the JSO non-emergency number (904) 630-0500, email JSO at, or CRIMESTOPPERS at 866-845-TIPS (8477).

Acey Morrison, 30, identified as a two-spirit person, an identity within indigenous North American communities where an individual possesses both masculine and feminine spirits. Acey is remembered as a ”kindhearted, down to earth, joyous, respectful, and loving soul” who was a “helpful and giving person who was always there for her family and friends.”

Acey was shot dead in Rapid City, South Dakota, on Aug. 21. Sadly, Acey was misgendered in the news following her death, which is common in many cases involving transgender or gender non-conforming victims.

Regina “Mya” Allen, 35, was a local advocate for the empowerment and support of Black trans women in her hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin as a member of SHEBA (Sisters Helping Each Other Battle Adversity). Her Christian faith was important to her, and she was a fan of professional basketball and football, makeup, and fashion. Mya was active on social media and shared her joy and laughter with the world.

Mya was killed less than a month before her 36th birthday when she was shot and killed outside her apartment in Milwaukee. If you have information to help bring Mya’s case to justice, Milwaukee police can be contacted at (414) 935-7360. Anonymous contact can be made to Crime Stoppers at (414)224-TIPS (8447).

Dede Ricks, 33, was shot and killed in Detroit on Aug. 27. She was found in her home just before 3:40 a.m. Wayne County Prosecutor’s office reported a suspect has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder and felony firearm possession.

Maddie Hofmann, 47, was born in Korea and raised by their adoptive family in the U.S. Maddie shared a deep bond with their younger sister, Emily. They are survived by their spouse, Rebecca, two children, and extended family.

Maddie is the second transgender person killed by police in 2022. Police were called to Maddie’s home on May 19 for a “wellness check,” while Maddie was experiencing a mental health crisis. Less than one minute after the police entered, Maddie was shot and killed. The Chester County District Attorney claims the police shooting to be “justified.” Maddie’s death is one of over 600 lives taken in officer-involved shootings in 2022.

Aaron Lynch, 26, was a trans man experiencing a mental health crisis when he was shot and killed by police in McLean, Virginia, on July 7. This was in response to a wellness check requested by a friend who was concerned for Aaron. One officer fired his weapon, shooting Aaron four times, after attempts to tase Aaron were unsuccessful.

Aaron’s parents released a statement condemning the officers’ actions. They expressed the need for mental health counselors to be presented during wellness checks to avoid tragedies, like Aaron’s and Maddie’s, in the future.

Kandii Reed, 29, who also went by Kamila Marie Swann and Dee Dee, was a model and performer. Little personal information is available, but she was surely loved and will be dearly missed. Kandii was killed in Kansas City on July 24. Kandii was, unfortunately, misgendered in the media following her death. Her death is believed to have resulted from an argument, possibly with an intimate partner.

 Hayden Davis, 28, was a vibrant person with an active social media presence with many interests, including fashion, skincare, makeup, and the Kardashians. She was a Black trans woman known for her bright smile and loving nature. Her death is the third killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in Michigan.

Around 11pm on July 25, Hayden’s body was discovered on the sidewalk, wrapped in a blanket after she’d escaped from a vehicle, been chased, and shot multiple times. The investigation is ongoing, and information can be given to Detroit police at (313)596-2260 or Crime Stoppers at 1(800) Speak-Up (773-2587).

Marisela Castro, 39, on July 29 and the eve of her 40th birthday, was shot and killed in the Northshore neighborhood in Houston, TX. Her friends and family described her as “bright,” “sunny,” and a person who never made enemies. Marisela had just moved to Houston to be closer to family. She will be missed by many.

 Cherry Bush, 48, lived in the Los Angeles, CA, Sylmar neighborhood and experienced homelessness.  Her brother named her “[his] oldest friend” on social media after she was shot and killed on July 5. Her death resulted from a targeted attack based on her gender identity.  LA County District Attorney stated that a suspect has been arrested and charged with one count of murder, attempted murder, and a hate crime allegation. 

Keshia Chanel Geter, 26, was traveling with a friend through Augusta, GA, on July 20 when she was fatally shot outside a motel. Like many transgender and gender non-conforming victims of violence, Keshia was initially misgendered in local media. Tori Cooper, Director of Community Engagement for Transgender Justice with the Human Rights Campaign, said: “She should still be alive today to embrace those she loved and continue living a bright and full life.” 

Martasia Richmond, 30, was beloved by many. Following her death on July 12, an outpour of tributes and condolences was shared on social media. Martasia was killed in Chicago after being stabbed repeatedly. Tori Cooper, Director of Community Engagement for Transgender Justice with the Human Rights Campaign, said, “[Martasia] should have decades ahead of her to spend with those she loved. Her death was not only unjust but part of an alarming trend of anti-transgender violence in Chicago and in this country at large.”

Kitty Monroe was a beloved friend and loving mom to her dogs: Chyna, Milan, Tokyo, and London. She shared photos of her fur babies frequently on social media. Jasmine Tasaki, Founder and Executive director of WeCareTN, said, “Kitty was a beautiful person; her energy was always light and fun. Her family and friends will miss her. I hope we will hold closer to each other in this dark time. Memphis has lost another beautiful person, but we’ve gained an angel.”

Kitty was pronounced dead in Cordova, TN, on June 29 when police responded to a domestic disturbance call. Her death is believed to have resulted from domestic violence. 

Shawmaynè Giselle Marie, 27, was born and raised in Gulfport, MS. She worked as a personal care and certified nursing assistant for almost four years. Friends and family remember her as a “loving, funny, kind, and genuine person.”

Shawmaynè was shot and killed in Gulfport on June 21 following an argument.

Brazil Johnson was a passionate LGBTQ+ activist, talented chef, beloved daughter, and a trans woman. She was a member of Diverse and Resilient, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group that works to achieve health equity and safety for LGBTQ+ people/communities in Wisconsin. Brazil’s mother, Bernita Gildart, described her daughter’s passion for cooking and said the kitchen was “like a haven for her.”

Brazil was killed in Milwaukee, WI, on June 15, and police are still investigating the homicide. Contact Milwaukee police at (414) 935-7360 or Crime Stoppers at (414)224-TIPS (8447).

Sasha Mason, 45, was a Latina trans woman, part of a large and loving family, and a beloved friend to many. Friends and family remember her beautiful smile, kindness, and generosity. Her life was tragically cut short when she was shot and killed in her apartment in Zebulon, NC, on May 13.

Chanelika Y’Ella Dior Hemingway, 30, was born and raised in Guilderland, NY, where she was close with her mom, cousins, and niece. In May, Chanelika celebrated her 30th birthday and recent graduation from the University of Albany, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree and received a 2022 Spellman Academic Achievement Award. Chanelika was known for a smile as bright as her future.

Chanelika was killed in Albany on May 31. Albany Police Department is investigating, but details have not been released. Please contact the Albany Police Department Detectives at 518-438-4000 with any information.

Nedra Sequence Morris, 50, was “strong, feisty, [and] opinionated.” She loved talking on the phone with many friends, who cherished her deeply. One friend wrote on social media: “Sequence this one hits hard you was a sweet and beautiful person and gona be truly missed I love you baby sleep pretty you’ve gain your wings.” She is remembered alongside Semaj Billingslea, Tiffany Banks, and Duval Princess as the second victim of targeted violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people in Floria.

More than 100 people held a vigil at the intersection her body was discovered. On May 14, Sequence was fatally shot in Opa-Locka, FL. Police are looking for a 2017 Jaguar F-PACE that left Morris’ body at the intersection of NW 32nd Avenue and NW 132nd Terrace. Those with information should call Miami Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS.

Raymond “Ray” Muscat, 24, was a trans man with a kind soul and glowing smile. His life was cut short when he was shot and killed by his girlfriend, who also killed her brother, before turning the weapon on herself. Ray was killed on May 8 in Oakland County, MI.

Fern Feather, 29, identified with she/they pronouns, was kind and free-spirited. Her friends remember she always made others feel valued wherever she went. On April 12, Fern was stabbed to death in Morristown, VT.

Ariyanna Mitchell, 17, was only a junior at East End Academy in Newport News, VA, when she was fatally shot on April 2 while protecting her friend during a fight at a party in Hampton, VA. She was a member of the Triple E (Electra Eagles Elite) Dance Academy, and her family said, “She was truly unique, funny, and loved by everyone. There was never a dull moment when Ariyanna was around.”

Miia Love Parker, 25, was a Black trans woman and a fan of Pose, a TV dance musical show set in the 1980s that explores the queer culture in New York. She was fatally shot in Chester, PA, on April 1. Local police have not yet released information about a motive but have identified a suspect. Anyone with information is asked to call 911 or contact Chester Police at 610-447-8424.

Kenyatta “Kesha” Webster, 24, was found dead in Jackson, MI, on March 26. On April 1, over 100 people attended a balloon release that honored Kenyatta. Her mother called for justice and media attention to bring awareness to her daughter’s death. “Everybody share it all on Facebook,” said Sharon Taylor, Kenyatta’s mother. “All over Facebook. Let it go out, because I want justice for my baby. Because she was loved. She had plenty of love. She didn’t deserve that. She ain’t no dog, no rag or dirt. She’s gonna get justice” The family told the media it was a “robbery-homicide,” and the investigation is ongoing. Contact Jackson Police with any information at (601) 960-1217.

Kathryn “Katie” Newhouse, 19, was an Asian-American trans woman. She was autistic with passions for hiking, sightseeing, Minecraft, and Uberspire. She advocated for trans rights and believed: “Model best behavior in your own sphere, break down stereotypes, and speak out.” She was an Illinois native but was killed in Canton, GA, by her father. On March 19, another fight between Katie and her father started and ended when her father shot his child before shooting himself.

Tatiana Labelle, 33, was a Chicago native and a fan of Mariah Carey and Patti Labelle. She is loved by friends and family, following her death on March 18, when she was found dead of an apparent homicide. The investigation is ongoing.

Paloma Vazquez, 29, is a Latina trans woman and member of Organización Latina de Trans en Texas, an organization for Latina trans women in Texas. She was fatally shot in Houston, TX, on Feb. 26. She’d immigrated from Latin America just six months before her death to escape transphobic violence.

The Houston Police Department is investigating Paloma’s death. Call the Houston Police Department’s homicide division at 713-308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS to report anonymously.

Matthew Angelo Spampinato, 21, was the victim of a hit-and-run crash in New Castle, DE, on Feb. 9. Matthew was a trans man who worked as a barista at Starbucks, where he was beloved by employees and customers. One coworker said, “He was always so selfless. He would always ask how everybody was doing even when he wasn’t having a good day himself.”

Matthew shared his transition journey on social media and was in the process of legally transitioning when he died.

Naomie Skinner, 25, was a Black trans woman and described as a “very outstanding person” by her friends. Her boyfriend fatally shot her on Feb. 12 near Detroit in Highland Park, MI.

Transgender and gender non-conforming people are more likely to be subjected to increased risk factors, such as intimate partner violence and domestic abuse, according to the Human Rights Campaign’s “Dismantling a Culture of Violence” report.

Cypress Ramos, 21, was a Latina trans woman who loved her local LGBTQ+ community in Lubbock, TX. Her body was discovered on Feb. 13 after she’d been killed and left in a storage unit. A suspect has been charged with her murder.

Duval Princess, 24, was a popular hairstylist and active member of the LGBTQ+ community in Jacksonville, FL. She was in the early stages of transitioning and identified as transgender. Duval is remembered for her kindness and authenticity.

Duval was killed on Jan. at the Highland Square shopping center on Dunn Ave. in Jacksonville, FL. She is remembered alongside Semaj Billingslea, Tiffany Banks, and Nedra Sequence Morris as the first victim of targeted violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people in Floria.

Amariey “Myara” Lei, 20, was a young trans woman and lifelong dancer. She was a coach for the Lady Diamonds, a hip-hop and majorette dance team, and she strived to instill positivity and confidence in others.

She was found shot on New Year’s Day, around 6 a.m., at the 1300 block of Wood Street in Wilkinsburg, PA.

A number of LGBTQ celebrities, icons, and local community leaders were also lost this year. 

While he did not pass away this year, Bill Lowe, 68, was a prominent art dealer in Atlanta. He founded Bill Lowe Gallery in 1989, and the Buckhead gallery carries on his legacy following his death on December 29, 2021, after a months-long battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Melanie Vaughn, 63, beloved Atlantan and business partner for Doc Chey’s Noodle House left behind her wife and sorrow in the LGBTQ community. Rich Chey wrote: “To her friends and family, she was a confidant, cheerleader and someone they could always count on. To my employees, she was a mentor and a mother-figure. To our guests, she was the face of Doc Chey’s who always had a smile on her face and a kind word for anyone she encountered.” After suffering a catastrophic heart attack on May 11, Vaughn never regained consciousness.

Actor and comedian Leslie Jordan, 67, passed away, on October 24 in a single-car crash. A lifelong advocate for LGBTQ rights, helping to feed and support those in need during the early AIDS crisis, he will be greatly missed. His iconic roles in “Will & Grace,” “Hearts Afire,” and “American Horror Story” remind us of how bright and joyful he was.

André Leon Talley, 73, died on January 18, suffering a heart attack as a result of complications from COVID-19. Talley was highly respected in the fashion industry, rising through the ranks at Vogue Magazine from news director to editor-at-large. He was included in the “50 Most Powerful Gay People in America” list by Out Magazine in 2007.

Gay country musician and committed LGBTQ activist Patrick Haggerty, 78, passed away on October 31 following complications after suffering a stroke a few weeks prior. In 1973, his band Lavender Country released a self-titled album, which is considered to be the first country album by an out musician.

Actress Anne Heche, 53, passed away on August 11, nearly two weeks after she crashed through a two-story house in a Los Angeles neighborhood, Mar Lista. The Donnie Brasco star, who was in a relationship with Ellen DeGeneres from 1997 to 2000, sustained a severe anoxic brain injury along with severe burns. 

Aaron Carter, 34, was a pop and hip-hop artist who rose to fame in the late ’90s alongside his Backstreet Boys member brother, Nick. He was found dead in his bathtub on November 5, and his cause of death was deemed to be drowning. Carter came out as bisexual in 2017.

Nichelle Nichols, 89, was an actress, mother, and activist. She was famously known for her role as Lt. Nyota Uhura on Star Trek from 1966 to 1969. She broke barriers after Duke Ellington “discovered” her and helped her become a singer and dancer. 

Gay journalist Chuck Colbert, 67, died June 30 of “a serious medical issue.” He reported extensively on the sexual abuse within the Catholic clergy of Boston. He was a lifelong devotee to the core faiths of the Catholic Church. 

Thierry Mugler, 73, was a well-known French fashion designer, known for a theatrical and avant-garde approach. Mugler designed looks for Michael Jackson, Madonna, Grace Jones, David Bowie, Diana Ross, and Demi Moore. 

Deb Auchery, born Alex Simpson, 30, died September 22 due to complications around Type 1 diabetes. Simpson was a member of The Cult of Tuck, a drag troupe that uplifted queer performance and artistry throughout central Oregon. 

Cherry Valentine, born George Ward, 28, died on September 18. The cause of death is unknown to the public. Cherry Valentine is the only drag queen of Romani heritage to appear in the Drag Race franchise, having appeared on RuPaul’s Drag Race U.K., and was openly genderfluid. 

Valencia Prime, 25, died on September 12 of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. She was dubbed “Philadelphia’s plus-size dancing diva” and was a proud trans woman and drag queen.