Rainbows for Raymond: Why, this time, changing your profile picture does something. • floyd’n’stuff

Yesterday, a shining light was snuffed out in our city.  Raymond Taavel, 49, was beaten to death on our oft-maligned but much-loved Gottingen Street.  It’s likely the last thing he ever heard was his assailant calling him a “faggot”.  Hate crime or not – that’s up to the police to decide – it struck our queer community hard.

I didn’t know Raymond.  I met him a handful of times through Halifax Pride and various events we were both a part of.  I wish I could say I had a specific memory; something to hold on to, something to recognize as a personal loss while I mourn.  We’ve all lost something, whether we knew Raymond or not.  Maybe we never had it.  How do we feel safe in our space, on our streets, in our city when all the love spilling out of us puts a target on our backs?

Shortly after news broke of Raymond’s death, a Facebook group popped up called “Rainbow in Your Window for Raymond Taavel”.  The idea was to get people to put up rainbow flags in their homes and businesses in a show of solidarity and remembrance.  Last night at Raymond’s vigil, Gottingen Street was awash in rainbow colours.  I arrived at work this morning to find two rainbow flags up in our windows.  The Facebook group did not instruct people to change their profile pictures to rainbows as well, but many of my friends – straight, gay, and otherwise – made the switch.  I did, too.

In general, Facebook activism is kind of useless.  Sorry, KONY 2012 supporters.  People will click a lot of links, “like” a lot of pages, and post a lot of pictures to “raise awareness”.  Does it do anything?  Sometimes, it doesn’t.  It might make you feel like you’ve contributed, but unless you’re doing something concrete in the real world, in most cases you might as well be sharing funny cat pictures (I can haz funding for cancer research?).

So, why did I change my profile picture?  Why did you?  Does it make a difference this time?  I think it does.  Without a doubt, we need to take real action.  Raymond did – he worked tirelessly his whole life in support of equality.  Homophobia, and all forms of hate, flourish in fear and silence.  We’re afraid of the homophobes.  We’re afraid that they’ll make us lose our jobs, our homes, our lives.  So we stay silent.  We don’t tell our bosses in case we get passed over for the next promotion.  We don’t tell prospective landlords that our roommate is actually our girlfriend or boyfriend or spouse, in case they suddenly find a problem with our rental application.  We don’t hold hands walking down the street because there are still people who are so enraged by the mere reality of our existence that they attack us.  It’s so incredibly fucked up, but we’re scared, so we hide.

The only way we’re going to beat this fear is by shining a light on it.  I’m not advocating unsafe behaviour – if you’re 14 and gay and you know your parents are going to kick you out if you come out, it’s not shameful or wrong or cowardly to stay in the closet until you have a plan, an ally, a safe place to go.  Often, though, people are better than you think.  I live with my partner in an apartment owned by the Orthodox Church.  The location is awesome, the rent is cheap, and as soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to live there.  Except I probably couldn’t, because I had to tell my prospective landlord – a member of the conservative church – that I’d be living there with my girlfriend.  I made a decision a long time ago, though, to stop hiding.  Too often I found myself carefully choosing my language to hide my identity.  Using gender neutral language.  Changing the subject.  So I told my landlord the truth.  And guess what?  He was completely cool with it.  In fact, he went out of his way to assure me that he had no problem with it and that gay couples were more than welcome in his apartments.  He must have read the embarrassment and fear on my face.  He didn’t say it outright, but what he was implying was this:  “you are safe with me.”

Where are we, the rainbow community, safe in Halifax?  Despite Raymond’s tragic and senseless death, we ARE safe on Gottingen Street.  Maybe not with everyone, but the people who love us and protect us far outnumber those who would try to harm us.  We saw that last night as hundreds of people crowded the street, waving the flag, leaving flowers, and loving each other.  When I came to work this morning, I saw the rainbow flag in the window and felt reassured that I am safe here.  When I logged on to Facebook, I saw rainbow flag after rainbow flag representing my friends, family, coworkers, professional contacts, and acquaintances.

I turn my nose up at armchair activism as much as the next person, but this feels different, somehow.  This doesn’t feel like just another symbolic gesture.  This is a reminder that despite our hurt, our fear, and the hopelessness that we might feel after this horrific event, there are still a lot of people out there who love us and don’t want us to be afraid.  So go ahead and change your Facebook picture in honour of Raymond, non-armchair-activists.  This time, it does something.  It says, “you are safe with me.”

Re-blogged from: floyd’n’stuff.

Titanic 100

Tonight my mom and I made the trek across the harbour to take part in The Gathering, a procession marking Halifax’s role in the Titanic story.

Join host George Jordan, actor, narrator, and broadcaster at the waterfront side of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic for a walking, candle-lit procession.

To symbolize Halifax’s recovery role in the tragedy and the conditions in 1912, a horse-drawn carriage with a period-style casket and pallbearers will lead the procession.

The procession will begin at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, move along Lower Water Street, left onto George Street, left onto Hollis Street, right onto Prince Street, right onto Argyle Street and into the Grand Parade for the Titanic Eve – Night of the Bells event. Along the way, participants will pass some of the city’s Titanic-related landmarks.

 It was a calm, clear night, much as it was on that date 100 years earlier. The big difference was the temperature; luckily for us, it was a fairly warm night for April. The procession was late starting…so late that in the end we only watched it go by and then went for ice cream, instead of joining the procession as we had originally planned!

Getting the wagon loaded and ready…

However, it was a nice procession: a period wagon pulled by black horses carried a plain coffin, and was followed by RCMP, cadets, boy scout troops and even some people in period costume. I heard that almost 500 people took part.

The procession passing

After our break, we made our way to the Grand Parade for Titanic Eve – Night of the Bells.


The story of the Titanic and Halifax’s connection to one of the
world’s greatest ocean tragedies.

Narrator: Canadian Icon, Gordon Pinsent. Performances by:

  • Stadacona Band
  • Rhapsody Quintet
  • John Gracie
  • Barber Shop Quartets
  • Titanic Orchestra
  • Evans and Doherty
  • Hallelujah Praise Choir
  • Nova Scotia Mass Choir
  • Laura Smith
  • Coig
  • George Jordan
  • Lennie Gallant
  • Rosalie Peppard
  • Camerata Xara Young Women’s Choir
  • Samantha Gracie
  • Dylan Guthro
  • Andrew Machum
  • Glenn Coolen
  • Sarah MacLeod
  • Amethyst Dancers
  • Scaip Na Cleiti Dancers
  • RCMP Pipes and Drum Band

After watching the opening speeches, some videos and the first couple of performances, we had to make our way back to the waterfront to catch the last ferry back to Dartmouth.

A moment of silence was scheduled for 12:27 a.m. (April 15th), the same time when the last wireless messages from Titanic were heard at Cape Race, N.L.

…Halifax’s Grand Parade, home of St. Paul’s Church. Here, church bells rang out that first Sunday after Titanic’s loss, the very day CS Mackay-Bennett’s hardy crew of Halifax sailors began pulling in the first of the 328 bodies recovered from the icy ocean, some 1,300 kilometres away.

And before the night was over, the bells would once again toll, following a planned moment of silence and flares fired high to mark the stricken ship’s final calls for help.

Mom and I were long home by that point, but apparently it was delayed by almost 40 minutes after the Grand Parade performances went longer than planned (and some technical difficulties).

…it was the final moment of the night, marking the Titanic’s final distress signal that was the most memorable. Flares burst into the sky, the stage went black, and a lone piper began to place a haunting and beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace. Then from across the square at St. Paul’s Church, and from multiple other historic churches in the city, the bells began to toll.

Read more about Halifax’s events to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Titanic‘s sinking here.

You Can’t Make Up Sh*t This Good!

Woman searches for stranger who got her pregnant at Motorhead gig on Craigslist

The online advertisements at Craigslist can often be handy for tracking down jobs, finding somewhere to live or meeting new people – but a woman in the US is putting the site to a novel use by searching for a stranger who got her pregnant at a Motorhead gig.

The anonymous metal-lover used the site’s Missed Encounters section in an attempt to find a man she had enjoyed a frisky bathroom encounter with at a show at Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom, featuring Motorhead and Megadeth.

According to the Daily Swarm, she wrote: “Me: Blue hair, silver tube top, fishnets, Knee high black biker boots. You: Red Mohawk, black pentagram gauges, viper piercings.”

She then went on to poetically describe their romantic frisson, revealing: “I was grinding on you in the pit, then we went to the bathroom, and got fucked up. You had a nice cock so I let [you] raw dog it in the stall. You were really good and you had to gag me so I would make too much noise.”

She then added:

Anyway I’m pregnant. It’s yours. contact me if you want to be part of your child’s life.

To read the original post, and help out with the search, visit Craigslist.com. So far, it is unknown whether she has had any response to her advert.

Source: NME