The Stories Project: Christine Thomas’s Story

Christine Thomas was a friend and peer of Rebecca Wight at Virginia Tech who remembers her for her infectious optimism and zest for life. All words below are hers unless specified otherwise.

TW: death, murder.

Rebecca Wight was such a lovely soul and I regret not getting to know her better before she died. We attended Tech together; she was a bit younger than me but we ran in some of the same circles. We were both broke college students just trying to make it at the time, so I guess there was that! What I remember most about her was that she was always so full of life. Oodles of energy! She could talk so much about the things she was passionate about. And she never seemed daunted by life’s setbacks; she always carried herself like she knew it would all work out for her. She was so optimistic and had a great outlook on life, just a lovely, fun person to be around.

When Rebecca died, I found out because the girl I was sharing an apartment with was a mutual friend. It was late at night and she was in the living room reading the paper; I was in the kitchen. She called out to me – she said something like, “Chris, you’ve got to come see this” and then she showed me the paper. Twenty-eight-year-old Virginia Tech student Rebecca Wight shot and killed by an unknown gunman. We couldn’t believe it. I don’t remember being surprised when it came out that she was gay (I don’t mean that in a bad way – someone being gay just wasn’t a “big revelation” for me), but when it came out that it was anti-gay violence, that was scary. I’m not a lesbian, but I had friends who were and I know I worried about them more after this.

I think the memories I have of her are so clear because her death was so jarring. Rebecca was the first person I knew who was murdered and it was jarring to me, even though we’d never been especially close. I remember reading this article later where they described the guy who killed her as an artist and a nature lover and that made me so mad at that time. I was like, “What about Rebecca? She was the victim; why doesn’t anyone care what Rebecca was like?” I mean, she was a nature lover, too – who gives a damn about the killer?

I didn’t realize how much I missed her until I started reading these stories and all the memories came flooding back. No doubt the world is missing out by not having her in it – she would have done incredible things.

Edit (1/2015): Christine found this photo of Rebecca and asked that it be added to her story after being asked what she looked like. She doesn’t remember who took it or how it came into her possession and asks that if that person is reading, they let her know so she can credit them or remove the photo.

rebecca 1

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19 thoughts on “The Stories Project: Christine Thomas’s Story

  1. Sorry if this is a weird question but I’m having trouble picturing what Rebecca looked like. I’ve only seen maybe two pictures but she looks different in each of them. How do you remember her?

    • Luci:

      Dark skin, dark hair, dark eyes. She had nice eyes, thick brows, kind of an intense gaze from what I remember. She smiled a lot. She dressed like we all did in the 1980’s. She had bangs the last time I saw her. If I’d known back then that some women were looking at her a certain way, it wouldn’t have surprised me!

      Regards,
      Christine

      • “If I’d known back then that some women were looking at her a certain way, it wouldn’t have surprised me!”

        🙂

  2. Did we read about it in the paper, is that how we found out? I don’t remember how exactly we learned Rebecca died. I do remember thinking it didn’t seem real.

    I love reading your comments, Chris. You are too funny!

    • That’s how I remember we found out, yes, but after all these years, I could be wrong. The newspaper sticks out to me but it could have been on the TV. I am certain you found out first and told me while I was making coffee and we didn’t know what to do with that information.

  3. I had a friend who was murdered when we were very young (19). It was domestic violence so not the same circumstances but like you I wonder about all the amazing things she would have done with the next parts of her life. What do you think Rebecca would have done? Or think of how things are today?

    • adeline:

      I’m so sorry for your loss. I think it’s always hard not to imagine “what could have been.”

      As for what Rebecca would have done, that’s a good question! I don’t know that I knew her well enough to answer that. I think she would have been a business woman. She was smart and articulate. She would have been good at that.

      If I could tell her about all the things that have changed since she was alive, especially when it comes to GLBT rights, I think she would say “it’s about time!”

      Regards,
      Christine

  4. I like to believe this generation will be the one who creates a world without violence…much love to all…

  5. Hey Chris! Nice to see your name pop up on my screen! It’s been a long time. What are you up to these days?

    I don’t think I ever met Rebecca Wight. That name isn’t one that rings any personal bells for me. I do remember hearing about this later. I didn’t know you were involved. What made you think of her now?

    • Hey Janice!

      It’s good to hear from you. I’m not doing too bad. I just started a new job and I’m getting my youngest through her senior year of high school. Feel free to give me a call if you want to catch up. I still have the same number.

      To answer your question, I saw the young woman who writes on this blog was looking for stories from people who knew hate crime victims. She mentioned Rebecca specifically so I decided to tell her my story.

      Regards,
      Christine

  6. I said this on another thread but I’ll say it again: I think some good did come out of what happened. It would’ve been better if it never happened, but there are some of us reading whose lives would be very different if we’d never heard of Rebecca Wight and Claudia Brenner, including me. Their story and your stories are helping the next generation of young queers by giving us a reason to live and fight on. Or at least that’s how it was for me.

  7. I completely get your frustration at all the focus on the killers. I get that they deserve human rights and stuff but IDGAF if they were a nature lover or wanted to save all the animals in the rain forest or whatever. they killed someone. Someone is not alive because of them, let’s not idolize their ~redeeming qualities.~

  8. fwiw i think sharing these stories is keeping the conversation going years down the road. its like a ripple affect and its still impacting people. so thanks for sharing!

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