Toronto’s LGBT community mourns lives lost in tragedies with candlelight vigil
Members of the LGBT community in Toronto have hosted a candlelight vigil mourning the victims of recent tragedies in the Canadian city.
On Sunday (June 3), the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto held a vigil to remember the lives of people lost in the multiple tragedies in the city in the last year.
Serial killer Bruce McArthur was this year charged with the murder of eight men – but was only arrested after years of bungled investigations into mysterious disappearances within the city’s gay community.
Details of McArthur’s alleged crimes have shaken Toronto’s LGBT community and prompted harsh criticism of the city’s police for reportedly bungling the investigation.
The vigil was held days after the official opening of Toronto Pride on Friday.
According to CBC, Reverend Jeff Rock said to the congregation: “I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling some mixed emotions going into Pride.
“My personal response to the murders in the Village community this year will be to be gayer than I have ever been before.”
LGBT activists have been critical of the police’s actions regarding the murders, alleging that authorities did not take warnings from the community about the suspected murders seriously enough and calling for an urgent inquiry into the failings.
This year has also seen the death of trans woman Alloura Wells and an attack in April where a van ploughed into a crowd, killing 10 people.
Offerings during the vigil went towards the Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention (ASAAP).
The charity’s executive director Haran Vijayanathan addressed the congregation during the vigil, speaking out about balancing the grief of the community and Pride celebrations.
He said: “It’s been quite a bit of a roller coaster since January, with all these emotions.
“We do need to celebrate, but we also need to take the time to mourn the way you know how to mourn and the way you’re comfortable mourning.”
Toronto’s Pride parade will be held on June 24 and will conclude in a sea of black to commemorate the Toronto Serial Killer’s alleged victims.
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The murders, which allegedly took place between 2010 to 2017, are believed to be carried out by McArthur using the likes of gay dating websites such as Silver Daddies to find and target vulnerable gay men, in particular immigrants or men of colour, in Toronto’s gay village.
McArthur last appeared in court on May 23 via video link, following questioning regarding a suspected eigth victim.
As well more recent crimes dating back to the 2000s, Bruce McArthur – a landscape gardener – has also been potentially linked to killings in the 1970s, when there was a similar spate of disappearances that also went unsolved.
Between 1975 and 1978 there was a total of 14 murders of gay men in the city, many of whom were murdered in violent attacks similar to McArthur’s alleged victims.