It's been over two years since Raymond Taavel was murdered, but the respected community leader isn't soon to be forgotten. Now, those wishing to honour Taavel's memory can purchase a memorial pin created by his family and partner Darren Lewis.
"Ever since this whole tragedy started, the family and myself wanted to do something in his name that would help out the community in some fashion," says Lewis.
The rainbow and gold pins launched on what would have been Taavel's 52nd birthday back in June, selling for $10 each. All proceeds go to non-profit The Youth Project, which provides support services to youth and those under 25 around issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. The cause was close to Taavel's heart.
"I know how we all felt about The Youth Project, and how necessary it unfortunately still is," Lewis says. "He always thought it was a real worthwhile community project."
Some $500 has already been raised through sales, Lewis estimates. The memorial pins are currently available at Alteregos Cafe on Gottingen and Venus Envy on Barrington Street. Expect to see them for sale "here, there and everywhere" during Pride events. While only 250 were originally made, Lewis says he's not opposed to ordering more if there's demand.
"It's something that's not as much in your face, but still that iconic image people recognize," he says of the pin. "Something you can wear on your lapel."
Pride will also honour Taavel at this year's flag raising event in Parade Square. Lewis will present mayor Mike Savage with a rainbow pride flag in a commemorative case featuring a dedication to Taavel. The case and flag will be permanently displayed in City Hall.
"Way back when Raymond was chair [of Pride], he basically camped out at City Hall trying to get the mayor to participate," Lewis recalls. "It was a real struggle, but he finally got them to fly the flag... Now, there will always be a flag in city hall with his name on it."