Raymond Taavel

June 9, 1962 -- April 17, 2012

picPride 2009. Photo by AnitaMartinez

After a short stay in Halifax in 1993 - 1994, Raymond moved permanently from Sault Ste. Marie in the late '90s, and in 2001, got involved with the local PrideFestival organizing committee. In 2003 he took over the highest profile job with Pride, that of co-chair; that year he organized a reception for LGBT community pioneers, Years Of Pride at the Halifax Club, and created a number of Halifax Pride firsts, including in 2003, a downtown merchants' window decorating contest, and garden tours in south end homes. He represented eastern Canada on the board of Fierté Canada Pride, the national organization of Pride Festivals.1

In 2003 he became Prime Minster (that is, Chair) of ISCANS, the local drag queen organization, and began a relationship of very successful of fundraising and a transition from "Barony" to "Imperial Court" with peers around the world.

After several years of writing articles and press releases, in 2004, Raymond joined the production team of WayvesMagazine as Editor and Managing Editor. Raymond produced spectacular events, wrote hundreds of interviews, news pieces, opinion pieces, took thousands of photographs and most importantly, coached a hundred writers, professional and non, into taking an interest in their communities and making things better by shining light on the beautiful parts of life -- and the ugly.

In May 2010, Raymond wrote (page 14) in Wayves Magazine, Why I’ll Mark May 17 -- about being assaulted after leaving a bar.

In January 2011, he left Wayves, with, he said, plans to change the world in new ways.

On April 17, 2012, Raymond was murdered. Facts about the incident are being accumulated here. That evening, over 1000 people2 gathered at a vigil.

Above all other things Raymond was an idealist; he believed that a perfect world was attainable -- with just a little more work. In his words, "It's a big world out there; on so many levels there's much that needs to be done."

If you had anything to do with the LGBT community in Atlantic Canada, you knew Raymond's name and he had probably encouraged you to think, write, and do something make the world a better place.

Raymond's eulogy, written by DarrenLewis and delivered at his funeral service by his boss Barry Boyce at his funeral on May 6, 2012, is here.

On October 15, 2012, Raymond received the Governor General's Diamond Jubillee Medal, via a volunteer committee organized by Halifax MP MeganLeslie?, one of 30 allocated to her, and 60,000 given out across the country.

August, 2013: Garden in Raymond's memory created in the empty lot across from Menz3

November 1, 2013: NSRAP honours CBC Radio’s Mainstreet NS and Maritime Magazine with the 2013 Raymond Taavel Media Award. “It is still exceedingly rare for the LGBT community to catch the mainstream media’s attention,” said NSRAP Chair Lisa Buchanan, “unless there is either a tragedy or controversy. And in those situations the coverage is often sensationalized. Both of these programs have been exemplary in their portrayal of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans-identifying Maritimers as they are, real people.” Over the last year, Maritime Magazine has presented several half hour documentaries on LGBT people, including a program on trans students attending university in Charlottetown, PEI, and a story about an openly gay high school student in New Brunswick whose positive outlook and example transformed their community. Mainstreet NS has consistently offered nuanced, accurate reporting about Nova Scotia’s LGBT communities. They have explored issues facing older LGBT people, trans issues, and LGBT youth.

pic January, 2019: The park at the corner of Inglis & Barrington is to be renamed and renovated in Raymond's name -- RaymondTaavelPark.

June 9, 2024: On Raymond's 62nd birthday, the ElderBerries hosted a party in that park, with about 50 people, lots of food, a birthday cake, speeches and lots of memories of him There are some photos here.


Delivered on June 9, 2024 by Lynn Murphy at the birthday party in Raymond Taavel Park hosted by the ElderBerries :

I only met Raymond Taavel once. I remember a smiling blond man, greeting a bevy of older activists at an event he organized in recognition of those who had gone before him. We were the early organizers of GAE/GALA, the Gayline, the first Halifax Pride Weeks, and other efforts at LGBTQ visibility and celebration.

Raymond didn't look like a hero, but he was -- not just in his death, although he died heroically.

Hamlet asks:

 "Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
 The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
 Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
 And by opposing end them."

Rather than suffer in silence the slings and arrows of homophobia, Raymond took arms against the sea of troubles. He did this by the work he did for our community: for example, championing marriage equality, fundraising for LGBTQ causes, and honouring community pioneers.

At the last, unarmed, he went to the assistance of a man who was being attacked outside a gay club. And in that final act of brotherhood, he died.

His killer robbed Raymond Taavel of his life, and robbed us of years, decades, of leadership he might have given us.

The sea of troubles is still out there. Perhaps not so confidently, perhaps not quite so ably, but stubbornly, we too take up arms against the sea of troubles, inspired by his example.

Today, in this park that bears his name, we remember and honour… Raymond Taavel.

Media Coverage

pic2009. Photo by RandallPerry

pic2008 Photo by Marvin Moore. Unknown artist for poster.

In 2008, Halifax photographer Marvin Moore took an iconic photo of Raymond which after his death was made into a poster, and pins.

Moore writes: it was January, 2008. I photographed the Shambhala Sun (now Lion’s Roar) employees at their office. There were around 23 individual photos. I think they were using the photos for a Losar (ie. New Year’s) card, and of course Raymond was a longtime and much loved employee at the Sun. I worked pretty quickly. I asked everyone to turn right, left, front and back to the camera. So I ended up with a kind of 360’ view of each person. When Raymond died I believe that the Sun was first to circulate my photo. I was very happy that my simple, straight forward photo was enhanced and used in all of those different ways. I felt like I had helped out in a small way.

DarrenLewis writes about the rainbow poster version: When I did the memorial pin campaign in 2014, I did some research as to its origins. I got as far as finding out that it had been originally posted the day after his death by someone involved with Niagara, ON Pride. I reached out to their organization twice via their public email to ask about who created it and to get permission to use the image, but I never did hear back from anyone, so I just took it upon myself to use it.

May 6, 2011 Memorial Walk And Celebration Service Media Coverage

picChronicle Herald Editorial Cartoon Sunday, 2012-04-22


Raymond Taavel Trust Fund

A trust fund account has been created to help Raymond Taavel's family cover funeral and other final expenses. Donations can be made at any TD Canda Trust branch in the country. Donate to Account Number 0036 – 6399950

Memorial Garden

After his death in 2012, a makeshift memorial came together across the street. A year later, an artist visiting the city created a healing garden in the empty lot. 4 The tribute was meant to be temporary and was set to be dismantled in the summer of 2014. At a public meeting on August 14, 2014, organized by NathanSmith?, fifteen friends and relatives discussed a permanent public memorial, such as a lamppost flickering rainbow colours, a rainbow archway crossing Gottingen Street and a soapbox for community voices. 5

City Hall Display

pic In the foyer of Halifax City Hall:

Presented to Halifax In Memory of Raymond Taavel 1962-2012. "Be Out, Be Informed, Be Compassionate, Be The Change!"

-- From Darren Lewis and the Taavel Family, Pride 2014.

Anita Martinez Photos

Anita took hundreds of photos of Raymond which are on file, including photos with Joey the leatherman; DanMacKay; CatherineMeade; JimBain; Theodore Tugboat; Ryan ??; JenniferPaty; RougeFatale; Bob / Robert Backen / AgumeuayNakanakis; KD Lang; EricSmith; RiaMae; Ria Margo W; CurtisCartmill; Sa'n / John / Sean / Randall Herney; Ryan; JaneWright. In another collection there is a photo at the 2007 [[RosieoDonnell reception with Halifax mayor Peter Kelly and Dartmouth mayor Gloria McCluskey.

These are all in the media folder for Raymond.

This page is a part of the HistoryProject.


1. FCP minutes, April 25, 2007
2. police estimate
3. Chronicle Herald August 2, 2013 "Garden honours memory of Taavel"