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Community gathers to mourn victims of domestic homicide

Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community remembered domestic homicide victims Thursday night with a candlelight vigil at the Boston Common.

The murder of Winthrop resident Casey Taylor in August, the third gay male to be killed by domestic violence in Mass. in five months and the seventh since 2010, spurred LGBTQ leaders to organize the vigil.

“After Casey Taylor’s death we thought, this is the third one this year, what is going on?” said Toni Troop of Jane Doe, Inc.  “It’s our responsibility to make the community more aware.”

Rep. Liz Malia, of Jamaica Plain, spoke underneath the Boston Common Bandstand with other community activists about the need for more conversation and open dialogue with the LGBTQ community about domestic violence.

“LGBTQ people, just like straight people, deserve a relationship free of violence,” Malia said.

Underreporting and a lack of information about domestic violence plague the LGBTQ community, said Iain Gill of the Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project.

“Only 24 percent of LGBTQ people polled in Mass. said they could name a resource that could help them if they were a victim,” he said.

Beth Leventhal, of the gay domestic violence support group The Network/La Red, said that although gay domestic violence is discussed more openly now than when she found The Network/La Red in 1988, there is still more outreach to be done.

“I think a lot more people know that it exists, but people don’t know what domestic violence exactly looks like and how to see that someone is being abused,” Leventhal said.

Despite LGBTQ domestic violence being as prevalent as domestic violence to heterosexual women, Malia said she was met with resistance when she first started to allocate funding in the State Legislature.

“I was shocked to be questioned about my advocacy for gay domestic violence by a progressive fellow legislator,” Malia said. “We now have $250,000 to $275,000 yearly in the state budget for gay domestic violence shelters, but that can only fund three beds in an emergency shelter.”

Earnest Simpkina, an activist with the Boston GLASS community center, said the event, which attracted about 50 people, was successful.

“Anytime you can get the community involved, especially when you get all these agencies together, it helps to raise the awareness about domestic violence,” he said.

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