Nex Benedict: Candlelit vigils across US see ‘huge turnouts standing for love’

Oklahoma non-binary teen Nex Benedict, who died on 8 February 2024, wears a light coloured shirt and dark vest as they stand outside

Vigils held across the US in honour of non-binary teenager Nex Benedict, who died a day after a physical altercation at school, have attracted “huge turnouts” of people “standing for love”.

Benedict, 16, died on 8 February, one day after telling their family they had been involved in a physical altercation in the toilets at Owasso High School. 

Preliminary information from the medical examiner’s office, shared by the Owasso Police Department, indicated that Benedict “did not die as a result of trauma”. An official cause of death is “currently pending”.  

In a video released on Friday (23 February), Benedict told police they were attacked by three girls. They recall the girls beating them until they “blacked out”. 

Following the tragic death of Benedict, vigils have been held across the US, with one on Friday being held at Huntington Beach in California.

Kanan Durham, executive director of Pride at the Pier, an organisation that formed following a ban on Pride flags being displayed, told KABC-TV: “This single moment cannot be the only way that we honor Nex.”

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Durham added: “This is a lot for all of us. This community has experienced grief like this so many times before.”

According to a X/Twitter post, around 200 people attended a vigil for Benedict in Iowa city, leaving flowers and flags on the steps for them. 

Vigils were held across Oklahoma, with a X/Twitter posts sharing that there was a “huge turnout”. 

“So many standing for love in spite of the hatred and bigotry that killed Nex,” one person wrote.  

A video of the vigil shows hundreds of people holding up candles to a picture of Benedict. A participant called the vigil “moving and poignant”.

Another person who attended a vigil wrote on the platform that they’ve “never met more people committed to love and justice”. 

A post by Oklahomans for Public Education also highlighted the “many people” who attended, adding “this speaks volumes.” 

GoFundMe has been created to help the family with funeral costs, and has raised more than $144,100 (approximately £113,652) so far. The raised funds have surpassed the initial target of $15,000. 

Benedict’s grandmother, Sue, who adopted them, said in an update that the rest of the funds raised “will go to other children dealing with the right to be who they feel they are, in Nex’s name”. 

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