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Trans, Queer and HIV Communities Mourn Loss of Writer and Performer Bryn Kelly

January 20, 2016

Bryn Kelly

Bryn Kelly

Bryn Kelly, a transgender woman living with HIV who was an author, performer and beauty stylist, died of an apparent suicide in her Brooklyn apartment, where she was found on Jan. 13.

The Ohio native splashed onto the New York fashion scene in 2006, when she began doing hair for movies, theater, and runway and print advertisements. Bryn specialized in pin-up styles of the '40s, '50s and '60s.

But her passion was also writing and performing.

She wrote for the NYC-based performance series TRIPS, Low Standards, and Queer Memoir. She was a columnist for OurChart.com, a social media site created by the Showtime television network to share creative content geared towards lesbians. She also authored the popular short story, "Other Balms, Other Gileads," which was included in the journal Time Is Not a Line: Conversations, Essays and Images About HIV/AIDS Now, commissioned by the New Museum and EOAGH: A Journal of the Arts.

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Bryn cofounded the Theater Transgression, a transgender multimedia performance collective, and served as co-creator and cast member of the touring roadshow, The Fully Functional Cabaret. She also performed in Lisa Anne Auerbach's public program, Art in the Age of Aquarius, at the Whitney Museum of American Art. She studied playwriting at Brooklyn College and was a 2013 Lambda Literary Fellow.

She was one of TheBody.com's 100 trans HIV/AIDS leaders of 2015.

"[Bryn] didn't tell me she was HIV-positive until years after we met. She moved from rural Ohio to Michigan to New York City, if I'm remembering the whole trajectory," writes Bevin Branlandingham of QueerFatFemme.com. "She was queer country, through and through. She also told me moving to NYC when she did saved her life, because of the HIV services available there."

A memorial for Bryn will be held on Saturday, Feb. 6 at 7 pm at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Avenue at 112th St. in Manhattan. Friends of Bryn are continuing to collect donations. Having met the goal of covering the the cost of funeral services, all additional funds raised will go directly to a scholarship for trans women and a New York housing justice organization.

If you or someone you know is a trans or gender-nonconforming person considering suicide, Trans Lifeline is here to help. Trans Lifeline hotlines are available in the United States and Canada, and are staffed 24/7 by transgender people. Dial (877) 565-8860 if you are in the United States and (877) 330-6366 in Canada.

In addition, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness:

There are many resources available to help teens and young adults, including the It Gets Better campaign and The Trevor Project, which provides a national, 24-hr, toll-free confidential suicide hotline for LGBTQ youth at 866-488-7386. The Trevor Project also provides an online chat and confidential text messaging -- text "Trevor" to 202-304-1200.

Althea Fung is the community editor for TheBody.com. For her thoughts on the healthcare industry, food and other random musing, check out her personal website, follow her on Twitter or stalk her on Facebook.


Copyright © 2016 Remedy Health Media, LLC. All rights reserved.

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