Vancouver queer activist David Holtzman dies of heart attack

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Vancouver's queer community has lost one of its most devoted and respected members. Local community organizer and activist David Holtzman died of a heart attack on Tuesday (April 10).

Holtzman was on holiday in Palm Springs, California, with his partner Peter Regier at the time of his death.

He had worked for 25 years in the social-profit sector and was well-known within Vancouver's queer communities.

He was the director of operations and human resources at Out on Screen (which presents the Vancouver Queer Film Festival), and had previously been the executive director of A Loving Spoonful, the executive director of Leadership Vancouver, and the development director of Friends for Life. He had also worked for the Department of External Affairs, the Positive Living BC Red Ribbon Advisory Council, the Canadian Council on Learning, Rick Hansen's Man in Motion World Tour, and Expo 86.

"Community and community development excites me because it affects all of us," Holtzman wrote on his LinkedIn profile. "It's the challenge that lies in consciously creating the physical and social communities we want….I feel humbled and very fortunate to live in the best country in the world and most livable city. Yet I think we can do better in the way we live, work and play together and the way we steward our planet. What legacy do we want to leave for our children and their children."

Holtzman and Regier received high-profile media attention when they were allegedly gaybashed in June 2010 by two brothers. The trial for the case began this year on March 20. Both Holtzman and Regier recently testified against their alleged attackers. The trial failed to conclude by its originally scheduled end date on March 26 due to delays and is scheduled to resume on October 1.

After the attack, both Holtzman and Regier became prominent figures in the effort to counter hate crimes against Vancouver's queer communities. Holtzman had been devoted to advocacy work for numerous causes.

You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at twitter.com/cinecraig. You can also follow the Straight's LGBT coverage on Twitter at twitter.com/StraightLGBT.

Comments (13) Add New Comment
David C. Jones
This is so sudden and profoundly sad. Especially since he never got to see justice in the bashing case but mostly because of how he will be missed by the community.
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Kari Berdahl
David will be truly missed by so many - a truly good soul and a real "go-getter". Reeling at the news of his passing.
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Ross Waring
Such a huge loss not just for the causes David worked for, but for the community and Vancouver.
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Margaret Chisholm
Deeply saddened by the news. David was a true hero.
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Andrée Laplante
A good friend died yesterday of a heart attack
A great man died from an attack to his heart

As I sat in disbelief, shocked and saddened by David’s passing, I couldn’t help reflecting on the events that preceded his death.

For anyone who knows David and Peter, they exemplify love, kindness, generosity and courage.

Yet, they were brutally attacked by two men blinded by hatred. Not only did such an undeserved act of violence shocked everyone at the time, we were profoundly upset to hear that David and Peter were accused in court of having caused their own misfortune by the defending party.

So much insensitivity has taken the best of David and his loving heart did not survive this fatal blow.

Love takes courage, while hatred and violence are spontaneous responses to fear. And fear comes from the failure to love oneself. So it is the lack of love for oneself that triggers fear and hatred for others, just like love for oneself generates love for others.

David lived by this simple principle: he genuinely cared for others and loved not only his life partner Peter, his friends and family, but also those who crossed his path, triggering in him the desire of being of service and of doing more than his share to make this world a better world.

David’s life reminds us of the importance of loving oneself and others to make this world a better world.

My heart goes to Peter
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Carl Meadows
What a deep sense of loss felt by our GLBT community. David was an amazing human being and he always filled up a room with hope and optimism. I will miss him deeply.
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Chris Tucker
David was a wonderful man. I'm shocked and deeply saddened by his passing.
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Nadir
When I heard of David's passing, I was in shock. I could only think that the world lost a hero. It had become a bit sadder without David in it. It still feels like a nightmare I hope to wake up from.
Peter and David are the most gentle, loving, caring, and giving people I have ever met. I pray for them, and wish them peace and love.
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Vancouver Park Board Chair Constance Barnes
My heart is just breaking and I could not believe my eyes as I read this news. I first met the wonderful David after I was elected to the Vancouver Park Board, he would call me to chat about Andy Livingston Park, newly planted trees and flowers and what he loved about his neighborhood and what he felt needed improvement.
David was a man of grace, courage, fantastic sense of humor who just just wanted the best for everyone and everything around him.
My heart is with Peter at this time, wishing him all my love, sending him strength and hoping that he knows that he and David will be in my prayers tonight as I drift off into a sad but grateful sleep...grateful to have known such a genuine and gifted soul!
Rest in peace my friend and be happy in this new journey.
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John Britton
David Holtzman's legacy will live on in the hearts, minds and actions of those his passion and spirit touched. And that is a LOT of people. You are already missed, friend. x
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Robin McQuillan
What sad news this is. David had such a brilliant energy and brought so much to the world and any room that he was in. His generosity of spirit was inspiring and the world is surely a lesser place without him. You will be missed my friend!
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an aquaintance
a very good man has passed
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James Johnstone
I am so very shocked to learn of David's passing. He was a giant of a man whose positivity, kindness, caring and love reached a lot of this world's sad and dark places. Such a sweet and wonderful man who will be sorely missed. My heart goes out to his partner Peter and to all of David's friends and family.
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