Daine Grey funeral: LGBT friends hold ‘celebration’ for trans student after crowdfunding $25,000

San Francisco’s LGBT+ community has held a celebratory funeral for trans student Daine Grey, who took his own life earlier this month, after crowdfunding more than $25,000 – including a donation from celebrity chef Nigella Lawson – to pay for the costs.

Friends of City College student Grey attended the colourful and emotional service on Thursday morning (July 26) at Oakland Chapel of the Chimes, featuring a performance a three-song performance by San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.

Grey’s coffin was draped in a trans flag, with the interior of the chapel decorated in the Pride colours, including a multi-coloured wreath and rainbow-dyed flowers.

Lady Katerina, who met 22-year old Grey at at the college’s Queer Resource Centre, organised the GoFundMe fundraiser, which quickly went viral, to pay for Grey’s funeral after his body was reportedly not claimed. The crowdfunder surpassed its $17,000 target in less than 48 hours.

The fundraiser states that Daine told his friends that his family had “disowned him;” however this has been disputed by Grey’s family.

Following the fundraiser, Grey’s mother got in touch with Lady Katerina and worked with her to organise her son’s funeral. Other members of Grey’s family also went to the funeral.

Grey’s father, although not present at the funeral, attended a private memorial service with his side of the family on Wednesday. He denied that his son was disowned in an email to PinkNews, saying he loved his son and “endorsed the plans” for the funeral.

The funeral will be followed by a private burial at the Hayward Chapel of the Chimes later on Thursday, where a trans flag will be presented to Grey’s mother.

Daine Grey passed away earlier this month. (Lady Katerina)

Speaking to PinkNews about the funeral, Lady Katerina described the event as “a celebration” of Grey’s life.

“We’re honouring the living, we’re honouring, basically, Daine’s living. And giving all that he could until he was unable to give no more,” she added.

The service featured speeches about Grey’s life, including a reading by Lady Katerina, in which she described Grey as a “symbol of Pride” and called for more mental health services for the LGBT+ community.

She added: “Let’s change the narrative and not blame the parents, because today we are here for Daine.”

San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus performed Cyndi Lauper “True Colours,” Holly Near’s “Singing for Our Lives,” and an Irish folk song known as “Irish Blessings & Prayers.” 

Grey’s coffin, draped in a trans flag in the Oakland Chapel of the Chimes. (Lady Katerina)

Talking about her reading during the service, Lady Katerina said: “It’s about how suicide is not selfish, how we work through depression, it’s about the message of love. There is no attack, there’s no somebody should do this or that, there’s nothing like that at all.”

The event was live streamed on Lady Katerina’s Facebook page.

Watch the video of the funeral service below: 

Lady Katerina previously told PinkNews that Grey was an “outgoing, very loving” character, adding: “He cared about people.”

“Even though he struggled with depression, even though he struggled with physically disabilities and other health problems, he was just trying to make life better for himself,” she said.

Lady Katerina added: “He was proud of being queer, being trans, because, you know, he was kind of fluid, more pansexual, but queer.”

The money left over from the Lady Katerina’s fundraiser will go to the Queer Resource Center to “help provide education and outreach for our students and faculty around queer and trans needs.”

Grey came out as transgender on his Facebook page in September 2017, posting: “Hello guys, guess this is my big ‘public’ Coming Out moment: if we talk in person at all you probably already know, tbh. So… I’m transgender (hence the name/gender change- which is already legal btw).

Daine Grey was studying at City College. (Daine Grey/Facebook)

“This means I identify as a gender different from the sex I was assigned at birth, for those who don’t know. I’m also gay so, that’s a thing.

“I’ve been taking hormones for around eight months now, so I’ve already changed a lot, for those I haven’t seen in a long time.

“Hope this doesn’t lose me too many friends and family.”

Posting on Facebook after Grey’s death, City College of San Francisco said: “It is with heavy hearts we share the news that a member of our student community, Daine Grey, took their own life early July. Daine was a promising young student who was a gay trans man active with the City College of San Francisco Queer Resource Center, and who advocated for awareness of ADA needs.”

The college added that counselling services are available through its student health centre, and that “a variety of resources available to our LGBTQI+ community at the Queer Resource Center” will have extended hours over the next two weeks.

If you are in the UK and are having suicidal thoughts, suffering from anxiety or depression, or just want to talk, call The Samaritans on 116 123.

If you are in the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached on 1-800-273-8255, which provides free and confidential support.