Last week, Chris Collins, a well-known LGBTQ community advocate, died suddenly at age 37.
Francesca Williams and Louie A. Ortiz-Fonseca, two community members who were very close to Collins, sent G Philly this remembrance of his life, impact, and legacy:
Christopher David Anthony Collins was born February 20, 1979, died January 3, 2017. He attended Engineering and Science High School. He began his life-long career in the field of HIV/AIDS and peer education at the early age of 15 at the Attic Youth Center, which spiraled into more employment at Choice Hotline, Bebashi, Colours, Mazonni, Center Washington Project, GALAEI, Family Planning Counsel, and a host of other organizations.
Collins was part of the first generation of youth peer educators when he served on the Attic’s Speaker’s Bureau. He was a teen counselor on the Choice Teen Hotline. He then went on to coordinate 40 Acres of Change, a program of the Colours organization. He then went on to work with Bebashi and played an integral part of expanding Bebashi’s reach to black young men who have sex with men. He then went to work at Mazzoni, leading and coordinating the only program for and by black young gay men. Collins was also part of the planning committee of the first alternative prom in 1995.
Christopher was like a father to many and he impacted an entire community of individuals, not just in Philly, but state to state. A GoFundMe page was created to help pay for the funeral costs. The goal was originally set for $5,000 and within just a few hours that goal was reached and passed. The final funeral arrangements pretty much made themselves due to the outpouring of donations made by the William Way Center, GALAEI and Colours. This man did something great in his life and it is showing in his death.
Collins is predeceased by his father, David Collins, and is survived by his mother, Veronica Collins; his sister, Dawn Collins; his niece, Taylor Love Foman; his nephew, Henry Martin III; his uncle, John Gallagher; and his aunts, Susan and Jane Gallagher.
Collins’s viewing begins at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, January 10th, with the service following promptly at 10 a.m. at St. Francis DeSales Roman Catholic Church, 4625 Springfield Avenue; interment to be held at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery. GALAEI and Colours have organized a community-based memorial service starting at 3 p.m. at the William Way LGBT Community Center, 1315 Spruce Street.