Now that convicted serial killer Bruce McArthur is behind bars, Toronto’s LGBTQ2 community is trying to move on.
On Monday, courtroom 6-1 heard victim-impact statements from Toronto’s LGBTQ2 community at the Toronto Courthouse.
“We are hurting. We are frightened. We are angry. We are grieving. We are trying to heal,” said representative Jaymie Sampa of The 519, a community centre on Church Street.
Outside the courtroom after the sentencing, Nicole Borthwick, who was a friend of three of McArthur’s victims, said the judge was too lenient.
“The community has gone through so much pain already,” she said. “Going through this again is only resurfacing all that pain and a lot of sadness, and there is no closure.”
Since McArthur’s arrest, 519 Church Street Community Centre has been providing trauma-related services and resources to the family and friends of the victims and the LGTBTQ2 community. The community centre has expanded its anti-violence program and is supporting the community through counselling, crisis support, and self-defence classes.
“Feelings of guilt, shame, confusion, and self-doubt overcome these folks as they work to move forward and navigate their daily lives and activities,” said Sampa.
The centre organized a vigil for the LGBTQ2 community to grieve the loss of the victims. Held Sunday night, it helped with the healing process for members of the community, friends, and family of the victims.
Rev. Deana Dudley of the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto also spoke in the courtroom on Monday to give a community-impact statement. She said that the “gay church” is not only LGBTQ2- and queer-friendly, but it also welcomes refugees, straight people, families of all sorts, and people of many faith.
Dudley said that people in the LGBTQ2 community see each other as their “chosen family.”
“Many of us, when we came out, were rejected or ostracized by our families of origin, our previous communities, our churches, and other faith communities,” she said in court on Monday.
“The men who were killed were our brothers. The community around us became our family. Grief has no map and no timeline.”
The church organized a vigil for the grieving LGBTQ2 community. Sunday’s vigil will include prayers and participation from Indigenous, Muslim and Hindu community.
Dudley said the yard on 53 Mallory Cres. was far more than just a body-dumping ground.
“In the spring, the plants and flowers will emerge again. There will be hundreds of daffodils. They are hardy and resilient and they will survive,” she said. “There will always be dreadful memories, the horrendous grief, the fears, the anger… Toronto’s LGBTQ2 community is also strong and resilient, and we, too, will survive.”