October: A Month Of Awareness, Activism And Justice

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October has been filled with anti-homophobia activism campaigns. The murder of Christopher Skinner is in need of attention - and justice.

Christopher Skinner

Photo: Kristen Mark

Christopher Skinner, a gay man who was brutally murdered in Toronto in October 2009

Anti-homophobia activism

This year, I’ve noticed that October has been a really busy month for anti-homophobia campaigns. Which is amazing, incredibly necessary, and perfect timing for what a lot of the folks in my world are going through this October.

October 11 was National Coming Out Day. You can find more information about this on Kinsey Confidential from our blogger Eric, here. There is the ongoing “It Gets Better” project that Dan Savage began, which is amazing, by the way. Those of you who haven’t checked it out yet, should do so. On Wednesday October 20, there is a campaign for people to wear purple to commemorate suicides caused by homophobia. The women of The View have even been talking about bullying and homophobia.

All of this activism is indicative of how much more aware our society is becoming in terms of ending the inequality related to sexual identity that remains persistent in so many communities.

The timing of it all

A year ago today, I was on my way home to be with close friends to mourn the loss of someone incredibly special to me. Our friend, Christopher Skinner, was brutally murdered in the early hours of October 18, 2009.

Skinner, as we most often called him, was truly an inspiration to all of those he met. His big bear hugs, his infectious laugh, and his incredible ability to make any gathering a better one with his presence are only a few of the things I miss the most.

Christopher Skinner, a 27-year old gay man who lived in Toronto with his fiance Ryan, was on his way home from his sister’s birthday party when he was attacked by at least 2 men and beaten. The attackers then ran over him and took off in their SUV. Skinner died in hospital hours later.

Last year, there was a vigil at Church and Wellesley that drew hundreds, and media outlets covered the murder. Yet the attackers are still running free, a whole year later.

We need your help

There were a number of people who witnessed this act of brutality, very few of which have come forward. It has been speculated that this murder was a homophobic act of violence, though not knowing the details of the situation, we don’t know if it was a hate crime toward Chris’ sexual identity or a random act of brutal violence. Regardless, we need justice, and your help.

We may not know for sure what happened that night, but there are people out there who do. The area was busy with cab drivers, people walking on the street, and other folks driving by. Those people haven’t come forward, and because of this, the monsters who murdered Christopher that night are free. I ask that if you have any information on what happened that night at the intersection of Adelaide and Victoria in downtown Toronto, to contact Detective Stacy Gallant at 416-808-7410.

There is currently a $125,000 reward that was donated by Skinner’s family, friends, and the Police Services Board for any information that motivates the capture of his killer(s).

WWSD: What would Skinner do?

A new philosophy came out of this tragedy. A philosophy that one of our friends summed up really nicely here. Live your life to the fullest, be bold, take chances, and be yourself and own it.

Although I posted this exactly one year after Christopher was taken from us, I think it is important to acknowledge (in the words of Skinner’s partner Ryan) that the dates have NO power, the memories have the power.

Keep it up

So please, if anyone has any information, please come forward. Also, keep up the participation in the anti-homophobia activism activities occurring in your community. Wear purple on Wednesday October 20. Spread the word about the “It Gets Better” project. Embrace diversity.

Kristen Mark, PhD, MPH

completed her PhD in Health Behavior and her MPH in Biostatistics, both at Indiana University. Kristen is an Assistant Professor in Health Promotion at University of Kentucky. Kristen's research focuses on sexual pleasure, sexuality in long term relationships, sexual function, and women's sexuality.
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