Halifax vigil held for queer activist Raymond Taavel as police investigate murder
Just as Vancouverites are mourning the death of beloved queer activist David Holtzman, Canadians on the other side of the country are mourning the death of a prominent member of their community.
Ryan Raymond Taavel, 49 years old, was a writer and editor of the Atlantic Canadian LGBT magazine Wayves, assistant circulation manager for Shambala Sun and Buddhadharma, and a former chairman of Halifax Pride Week. He was leaving the gay establishment Menz Bar on Gottingen Street early on Tuesday morning with another man when a third man began arguing with them and yelling homophobic slurs at them, according to two eye witnesses.
CBC News reported that one eyewitness saw the attacker repeatedly slamming Taavel's head into the street.
Taavel was found lying on the street bleeding at 2:39 a.m. by a passing motorist. He was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.
The suspect has been identified as 32-year-old Andre Noel Denny. He will appear in Halifax Provincial Court on Wednesday and faces a charge of second-degree murder.
Police had previously been searching for him as he was one of three psychiatric patients who had not returned to the East Coast Forensic Hospital after a one-hour leave.
Denny has been reported to have suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and had a history of aggressive impulsivity and unpredictability.
Taavel had previously experienced a homophobic physical assault in 2010 and wrote about it in Wayves magazine.
CTV reported that mourners have hung rainbow flags along Gottingen Street, located within the city's gay community. Citizens attended a hastily arranged but emotional candlelight vigil for Taavel in downtown Halifax on Tuesday (April 17).