SAN DIEGO – Tanya Vinson, a local LGBT community personality and activist, died in Illinois in the early morning hours of Saturday, Dec. 17, said her mother, Nancy Mattox of Tacoma, Wash.
Vinson was 33 years old. The cause of death remains unclear.
Mattox said that Vinson, of San Diego, was in Chicago visiting friends and family for the holidays when she died. Vinson attended Tacoma Community College, and was mother to five children, including two teenagers who reside in Washington state.
Vinson was most well-known for her involvement in numerous community activities, including serving as a co-host of the online radio show, “Out of the Closet,” and supporting The Trevor Project and the NOH8 campaign.
Mattox said that it has always been in her family’s nature to give to others before giving to themselves – and Tanya picked up on that trait.
“She was a very beautiful person,” Mattox said. “She has done so much for her family and for others – Tanya really gave of herself to everyone.”
Kristy Salazar, one of Vinson’s closest friends, said that the two had big plans to take their involvement with the community even further in the upcoming year.
“We had so many plans,” Salazar said. “We wanted to get more involved with The San Diego LGBT Community Center to make a difference. That was always Tanya’s mission – to make a difference in the community. She wanted everyone to know that they were loved regardless of their sexual orientation.”
Vinson was also the co-founder of an online social networking website, MyEve4Eve.com, which was geared toward the lesbian community.
Salazar said that the website, which had grown to have over 1,000 members in a short amount of time, was an example of Vinson’s creativity and drive.
“She was a remarkable businesswoman and innovater, always thinking of new ideas,” Salazar said.
Before her death, Vinson had taken MyEve4Eve.com offline while she attended to some health issues.
On MyEve4Eve’s Facebook page, Vinson posted a Nov. 27 call for volunteers to help her get the website back online, and an announcement of other plans she had:
Everyone who supports MyEve4Eve- I have been having some serious medical problems and I have been unable to work on the site. I have taken the website down but if I can get some volunteers to help me out i will put it back up. I am currently looking for facebook, twiiter, tumbler, downelink and website administrators. Anyone who is interested please send me a message. Once I get the amount of help i need I will put the website back up. And anyone in San Diego hit me up we are working on Gay San Diego a Reality Show, if you think your life is interesting enough for TV lets do this! Love all of you soooo much!!!
Salazar said that Vinson planned to bring MyEve4Eve back online, with an enhanced presence, in 2012.
Vinson’s popularity was evident on her personal Facebook page as condolences, tributes, memories, and photographs have been posted since news of her death got out over the weekend:
Jiovanni Carlos Santos wrote: “Omg! Just found out one of my friends has passed away. She was so kind and sweet. It’s so sad how life can be cut short but I know she’s smiling down on all of us.”
Ursula Nicole Green: “In the short time I have known you, you were an amazing woman.”
Danita L. Clark: “You touched my heart very much. You will always be missed.”
Prina Tjuanice, Vinson’s older sister: “Your last words to me were ‘I love you, too’ in your perky voice. You meant so much to your family and friends and people who didn’t have a voice.”
Salazar echoed the sentiments of many who posted on Facebook, saying that Vinson regularly spoke up for the LGBT community and others who couldn’t speak for themselves.
“Tanya said she came out [of the closet] everyday, wanting to make people proud while making no excuses for who she was,” Salazar said. “She always told me: ‘There’s never such a thing as being too gay.'”
Mattox said that Vinson will be buried in her home state of Washington, but is currently working on raising money to transport the body from Chicago and to cover funeral expenses.
“Out of the Closet” is accepting donations and planning a fundraiser to help with expenses, said Salazar, who can be reached via MyEve4Eve’s Facebook page.
Mattox also said that donations can be sent in Tanya’s name to: The House of Scott, 1215 Martin Luther King Jr. Way Tacoma, WA 98405.
“She was my angel, she was my heart, my first born,” Mattox said. “And I lost my first born, which is the most devastating thing in the world.
"I want to thank everyone who knew her and loved her and thank you for what they gave to Tanya. I love you all and everything you have done.”
Left photos- Top: Vinson with the cast of "Out of the Closet," Credit: Isaac Siqueiros Vidaña; Middle: Vinson's NOH8 photo, Credit: Adam Bouska; Bottom: Vinson with friend Melissa Sanchez, Credit: Melissa Sanchez.