The family of Daniel Aston huddled together in mourning in the first few pews of the Shove Memorial Chapel on Tuesday as friends of the 28-year-old filled the rest of the space and who knows how many more watched his funeral streamed online.
His was the last of five funerals honoring those killed at Club Q in Colorado Springs on the night of Nov. 19.
Aston, a bartender at the club, was remembered as a caring, sarcastic and intelligent man with a talent for poetry. On that night, Aston had gotten off at 8 p.m., but stayed to watch his partner, Wyatt Kent, perform in drag on stage.
“[He was] an appreciator of life, of all small things, a lover of everything and all,” Kent said. “A romantic. He would notice the smallest things and swoon over them for hours, like his little mustache, which he would often re-dye — I would walk into the bathroom and have to clean up smeared mustache dye all over the place.”
Aston moved to Colorado Springs two years ago. His parents, who had relocated to Colorado to be near their grandchildren, convinced him to also move to the state from Oklahoma. Aston’s parents have said he eventually loved living in Colorado and spent a lot of time with them in the mountains.
The more-than-an-hour-long remembrance at the chapel on the Colorado College campus Wednesday was attended by local and state leaders as well, including Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, Police Chief Adrian Vasquez, Fire Chief Randy Royal and Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera.
“There’s a palpable feeling in this room, and I can tell by just being here how loved Daniel was, by the pictures, by the words that have been spoken,” Primavera told the crowd.
Others remembered Aston’s infectious spirit.
“The love and the snarkiness and the sassiness and the intelligence and wisdom and all the things that were so amazing,” said Aston’s cousin, Dallas Dutka. “In your darkest moments, I challenge you to kind of channel the radiance; Daniel will be near to you if you ask him. He’s been very near to a lot of us to get us through the last few weeks.”
Aston’s ashes were stored in a metallic pink urn at the head of the chapel, surrounded by a bed of flowers arranged in the colors of the rainbow. A photo slideshow displayed Aston all throughout the years, an unabashed time capsule showing the spectrum of his life.
"How you and I find death is not nearly as important as how we found life,” said the ceremony’s officiant, Pastor Clifton Turner who practices at LIFE Church Colorado Springs. “Daniel found life, [he] loved it and lived it."
At Aston’s funeral Wednesday, organizers showed a video of him talking a few years ago.
“Hi, I’m Daniel,” Aston introduces himself. “I love androgyny, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I like things that are unique.”
Daniel Aston, with his meemaw’s piercing blue eyes, was a young bartender and a poet. He says in the video that whenever he thinks about a person, he thinks about their soul, whenever he thinks about himself, he thinks about his soul.
“I have a voice, but I feel like it’s not quite heard, a lot of trans people who are like me aren’t heard as much. I am a transgender male and I am beautiful.”
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