Canadian Activist Beaten to Death Outside Halifax Gay Bar

A psychiatric patient "suffering from paranoid schizophrenia" is in police custody and is expected to be charged with second-degree murder in the death of Ryan Raymond Taavel, a Halifax, Nova Scotia gay activist, CBC reports:

TaavelRyan Raymond Taavel was former chairman of Gay Pride week events and a well-known editor for Wayves magizine. He also worked for the Shambala Sun Magazine. A vigil is being organized in his honour Tuesday night.

He was found lying in the street bleeding at 2:39 a.m. local time by a passing motorist who called Halifax Regional Police. Taavel died at the scene.

He and a friend had just left Menz Bar, a popular Halifax gay bar, when they got into an argument and fight with a much larger man. Two witnesses have told police the attacker used homophobic slurs during the beating and one eye witness told CBC News that he repeatedly slammed Taavel's head into the street where the victim was found by police and later pronounced dead by paramedics.

A witness, who only wants to be identified as James, told CBC News that he saw a large man attack two smaller men, who appeared to be friends. One victim fled and the attacker then slammed the other man's head into the street.

Taavel's attacker was reportedly on unescorted leave from a psychiatric hospital.

More at Halifax newspaper The Coast.


  1. Francis says

    So, what we have here is someone who is mentally ill who was allowed to essentially escape from the psychiatric ward he was being treated in, and the supervision he was supposed to be under, and kill an innocent person. Lawsuit, lawsuit, lawsuit. I *really* want to hear an explanation for this from

    I definitely have to wonder, did the witnesses do anything? His friend, did he do anything, call for help at all, after getting away? I’m not going to blame them for a mentally ill individual committing this unspeakable tragedy, but did they attempt to step in at all?

    RIP to Mr. Taavel, what a horrible way for someone to die. Best wishes go out to his close family and friends.

  2. Francis says

    I also have to say, so as not to come off as hating against those with mental illness, that there are too many stories like this around where people who are diagnosed as ill are allowed to walk around without any supervision, and in many cases, have weaponry on them. Too many people are misdiagnosed, and too many people are not treated effectively in current mental health services. Hopefully, this story sparks some sort of focus and change in the mental health industry at large, because it’s stories like this which are completely avoidable that continue to tragically occur, and it’s not acceptable.

  3. Rick says

    “This reads as if the “friend” fled”

    The price of cowardice, a key element of the culture of effeminacy.

    Two grown men, even if smaller than an individual attacking them, should be able to successfully defend themselves against one…..but only if they have the courage to fight, which most gay men–let’s be honest–do not have in such situations, as was the case in this instance.

    And this is what you get as a result.

  4. Rick says

    By the way, I’m including myself in my comments about men who can’t fight. I can’t even show myself online, let alone stand up for myself in real life. Also, I’m the only man commenting on this website that suffers from penis-envy.

  5. Francis says

    Only someone truly, truly messed up, would actually blame two innocent people, one now being dead, for being “cowards” when they were basically blindsided by a large man who is mentally ill and on a rampage. Not quite something you expect, not really something you’re ready to encounter at all, let alone having to actually deal with that person because they’re going after you unprovoked and unannounced. Turning on that switch to fighting mode when you’re out with friends and just leaving the bar, relaxing and having fun after a day of work, a routine I’m sure Mr. Taavel and his friends did regularly, isn’t as easy as “be masculine and this won’t happen to you”. Guys with muscles, guys who are no more fem than the average man, gay or straight, get beaten in situations like this around the world virtually every day. Because when you’re not expecting to fight, and you’re not mentally nor emotionally ready and charged up for such a situation, often times, horrible things happen.

    Of course, everyone here who posts comments regularly, and are worth responding to, realizes this.

  6. ratbastard says

    I don’t know where many of you people live, but in my city I’m afraid schizophrenics are a common site on the streets, most are homeless. I saw one young guy a few days ago,at most early 20s, obviously homeless with all his possessions in a army duffel bag, screaming up at a big statue of George Washington, accusing him of spying on him and trying to enslave him. He stood there for a good 5 minutes, then wandered off, turning back every so often to scream profanities at George. Scared the sh*t out of a group of foreign tourist.

    Policies dating mostly from the 70s give the mentally ill their ‘freedom’ to live on the streets, not take their meds, etc.

  7. JAMES in Toronto says

    I’m Canadian, gay, and both a pacifist and an atheist, and I’m only 5’7″. I don’t know what I’d do, or what I could do in that circumstance… except to call 911.

    Thirty-five years ago, I hoped to improve myself, and tried to take karate.

    …and I had to drop out of the course because, no matter how I tried, I couldn’t bring myself to actually hit someone.

    The thing about being “Canadian”? We’re just not used to random violence. I don’t believe that I know anyone who either carries or owns a gun.

  8. Rick says

    “…and I had to drop out of the course because, no matter how I tried, I couldn’t bring myself to actually hit someone.”

    That is a manifestation of the culture of effeminacy–you have most likely internalized the idea–as many gay men have–that your sexuality is incompatible with masculinity and you therefore do not feel comfortable engaging in any kind of aggressive, masculine behavior

    “The thing about being “Canadian”? We’re just not used to random violence”

    LOL. Random violence is an integral part of hockey, the national passion in Canada.

  9. Rick says

    Every time I performed oral sex on my father and he wasn’t able to orgasm, he’d hit me in the mouth and remind me that I wasn’t being masculine enough while doing it. This culture of effeminacy makes a lot of you think that when you’re sucking your father’s penises you have to be delicate, like a little girl. Manly men like me know better, when you’re sucking your dad’s penis you have to be rough, tough and manly about it.

    I mean, I see you liberal effeminate queens and you’re so confused because you can’t think you can be masculine and gay – but if I’ve learned anything from the decades spent performing oral sex on my own father it’s that the more manly you are while doing it, the less he’ll hit you in the mouth.

  10. Rick says

    Ignore my impostor.
    Women think before they act. Men hit before they think.

    That’s the way it’s supposed to be. So the next time you find yourself thinking about something, anything at all, realize you’ve internalized your own homophobia and are playing up to straight’s society’s expectation of a gay man. You’re being effeminized because you’re questioning violence, and that’s something that real men don’t do. We hit first and think later, because that’s what being a man is about.

  11. Randy says

    James in Toronto said “We’re just not used to random violence”.

    Please explain hockey to me then. Or straight bars. Or the Greyhound bus line.

    I grew up here, and Canadians are quite familiar with random violence. We just prefer fists, knives, and swords.

  12. Peter Croft says

    Thee friend fled because he was attacked first, head smashed against a glass wall and telephone poll. This man has goen through enough, being beaten and having his friend killed…he is not a coward….just a victim who escaped with his life, something Raymond was not able to do.

  13. anony6 says


    You say “The price of cowardice, a key element of the culture of effeminacy”

    Tell that to transwoman CeCe McDonald who is being charged with 2nd degree murder for killing one of her attackers. What’s cowardly is hiding behind gender and sex norms, while attempting to marginalize those brave enough to live their lives irrespective of bigoted individuals like yourself.

    Go ahead and find comfort in homophobic and transphobic fears, go ahead and hide yourself anyway you can, even go ahead and absolve crimes against queers as self inflected. But, just don’t ever forget the spitting image of cowardice when you look into the mirror.

  14. excy says

    Very sad news form the Nova Scotia. From all accounts he was a very kind, friendly and intelligent man. RIP.

    Raymond had been at the receiving end of a sucker punch / homophobic attack a couple of years ago. Afterwards he wrote in Wayves, an Atlantic Canda LGBT publication….

    “It’s tempting in this day and age of legislated liberties to think that a personal or collective vigilance is no longer required. It’s easy to lull ourselves into complacency, thinking there’s nothing more left to fight for, or nothing more to achieve. Fighting back comes in many forms: reaching out, building bridges, educating and, if need be, defending ourselves from physical harm.”

    We should never forget these words of wisdom.

  15. grego says

    There are multitudes of mentally ill, criminally insane, unrehabilitated criminal felons on the streets. I’d like to see a gay organization sponsor a gun club. Google “open carry”

  16. M Woods says

    To take a human life is madness, BUT to use the HATE WORDS and then kill takes a SANE mind however hate filled. Using this euphemism “mentally ill” is a catch-all EXCUSE to let a KILLER off the hook. He knew enough to hate and used DEADLY force against a perceived gay man. I am ashamed his “friend” left him without calling for help. How much more cowardly could a “friend” act? He sentenced him to death thru his inaction!

  17. M Woods says

    Does the gay community need vigilantes to protect their sidewalks?? Police are impotent or deliberately indifferent. I see very little difference between the American police in the southern states and Klan violence against black citizens and our own policing of our streets against gay violence. This violence happens much more frequently in the US but too much frequency & similarity is showing up in Canada.