HALIFAX — A gay activist killed outside a bar on Gottingen Street in Halifax one year ago is being remembered.
Last year, on April 17 Raymond Taavel, 49, was beaten to death outside Menz Bar when he tried to break up an early morning fight between two men.
The alleged assailant, Andre Denny, 33, was arrested shortly after and charged with second degree murder in the killing.
Denny, who has schizophrenia, was reported missing from the East Coast Forensic Hospital after failing to return from an unescorted hour long leave the night before. Denny’s preliminary inquiry has been pushed back to July.
Loved ones plan to mark the one year anniversary of Taavel’s death by asking Halifax residents to mark it with “simple, quiet statements of love”. They also ask that businesses and individuals display a rainbow.
Those who knew Taavel say it has been a tough year but they are getting through it by remembering his vivid personality.
“He always encouraged us to tell our stories, tell them as widely as we possibly and approach issues with a feeling of compassion rather than anger,” said Kevin Kindred, who helped organize the memorial for Taavel.
“We really want our memories of Raymond to be in love and solidarity.”
Sheena Jamieson, a support services coordinator for the Youth Project, worked with Taavel in the past.
“He was very passionate about what he did. He was very committed,” she said. “He was always around and always there.”
Taavel was fixture in the gay community who was well known for his advocacy work. His death has been a blow to the city’s gay community.
“The violence that led to his death is something the community is very concerned about and continues to be cautious about,” Kindred said.
It has also been a critical talking point for gay teens in the area.
“We have lots of conversations around what it means to grow up gay in Halifax, what it means to be out in Halifax and what that means as you get older,” Jamieson said.
On Tuesday, Province House agreed to fly a pride flag at half-mast on Wednesday in remembrance of Taavel.