Bruce McArthur has pleaded guilty to 8 counts of murder, however instead of focusing on him, we would like to focus on the victims. Kirushnakumar Kanagaratnam, Majeed Kayhan, Skandaraj (Skanda) Navaratnam and Abdulbasir Faizi, Selim Esen, Soroush Mahmudi, Dean Lisowick and Andrew Kinsman, unfortunately lost their lives to an immoral and inhumane murderer. Most of the men were openly gay and six of them were refugees or immigrants. A commonality between most of the victims were that they were vulnerable in some way and had a limited amount of agency. Most of the victims had families and were working to support them. McArthur would either lure the victims from Liberty Village in Toronto, or through landscaping employment opportunities.
The gay community needs our support to ensure that something like this never happens. There was a task force set up to track down a murderer who was targeting gay men, however was disbanded. Residents/partygoers in Liberty Village were aware that there was a murderer present, however the issue was overlooked by authorities. Most of these men were gay men of colour and we can’t forget that white privilege isn’t real, because the media has a plentiful number of pictures of “happy” and “well-rounded” McArthur but chose to use a mug shot for one of the victims. We also can’t overlook that it took seven years to arrest McArthur, it took seven years and eight lives for McArthur to be brought to justice. The majority of victims were men of colour, and either were immigrants and refugees, because of their status their lives weren’t valued for what they should have been. We as allies should question if the victims were white or if they held a higher status, would there have been more done to save these lives? Could we have saved some lives?
For the future, we need to raise just as much media attention and be more socially aware about what is going on so close to us. We should be aware of just how vulnerable members of the LGBTQ community are, and why they need our support and protection. If you weren’t an advocate for LGBTQ rights before, we hope that this case resonates with you and demonstrates the dangers that the LGBTQ community go through. Every life should be valued equally, regardless of sexual orientation and gender.
As Tarana Burke stated, we should also focus on the healing process and not just the punishment for the aggressor, because the healing process doesn’t always end with punishment. We hope for the best and well wishes for the families who are suffering from these losses, we also would like to send our love and prayers to Sean Cribbin who was able to escape from McArthur, but are also aware that the experience is extremely traumatizing and hope that he finds healthy ways to cope.
The image is illustrated by Rachel Idzerda. Follow her on instagram at @rachelidzerda.