Early Tuesday morning in Halifax, Nova Scotia, a man was beaten to death on a street only a few miles from where I live. He was coming out of a gay bar in the early morning hours when his path crossed with another man, a psychiatric patient who’d failed to report back after his day-long release from the facility where he was being treated. The murderer used homophobic slurs as he beat the other man to death. A man who was a prominent gay activist in my city and who is described as kind and gentle by those who knew him.
I didn’t know Raymond Taavel but when I heard the news of his death, it was like I’d been sucker punched in the gut. Things like this don’t happen in my city. Things like this don’t happen in 2012, when we’re supposed to be living in a much more loving and tolerant society. Things like don’t happen to good, kind, loving people.
Things like this just aren’t supposed to happen, ever. And yet, they do.
I’ve been feeling a lot of things since hearing this news. Anger at the man who did it. Anger at those people out there who still hate others — others who have done absolutely nothing to them. Whatever happened to “live and let live”? I’d hoped we were almost there. I thought we almost were, in fact. And yet this week serves as a reminder that we still have a long, long way to go.
I’m feeling angry at our health system…a system that allowed a mentally ill and dangerous man wander free. This should not be happening! And yet I’m sure that it’s happening more than any of us are aware of.
I’m angry that I had to sit down and talk to my two lovely, innocent daughters about hate crimes. They are being raised to know that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality and that one’s sexual orientation is really no one else’s business. They are being raised to love and accept others and I to explain to them what happened to Raymond Taavel and why. I had to answer painful questions and (hopefully) allay their own fears that something horrific like this could happen to pretty much anyone.
I’ve also been feeling a lot of sadness. Sadness for the man whose life was cut short. Sadness for his friends and family. Sadness for my daughters who had a little bit of their innocence taken away. Sadness for all those who have been victims of violent hate crime like this. Sadness for my community. Sadness for the entire human race.
There is also fear. Fear for the future of not just my daughters, not just the citizens of my city, but for all of humanity. What will it take for senseless violence like this to end? As I head into the unknown future I fear for my own personal safety and for that of those that I care about. Random senseless violence can happen to anyone, anywhere, and what happened this week is a reminder of that.It’s enough to make one want to hole up in their home and never leave.
In my heart I know that there will be good things to come of this. There will be an awareness and there will be outpourings of love and support. A light will shine on all of us just a little bit more. This will help us to realize that we must continue to be vigilant in our efforts to teach love and tolerance.
But for now, for today, I’m going to let myself hate humanity. Just for a little while longer.