Friends and family are mourning the loss of Tim Doucette, a local peace activist and an active member of the Toronto Bisexual Network (TBN). Complex, intellectually curious and passionately political, Doucette was well-known for his commitment to various human rights movements.
Doucette was reported missing several days before his body was discovered by Toronto police in Lake Ontario on Jun 24. No foul play is suspected; police have concluded that his death was an accidental drowning. He was 38.
Doucette was a valiant fighter for numerous activist causes, something that became a large part of his life after moving to Toronto from his hometown of Newmarket. His support for peace campaigns like ACT for Disarmament, the East Timor Alert Network and Food Not Bombs was evident not only in his organizing and attending of countless protests, but also in his passionate writings for several activist publications.
Saul Chernos, a friend and former colleague of Doucette’s from ACTivist magazine, remembers a novice journalist with great potential.
“He was a fantastic researcher,” says Chernos. “Tim would ferret out facts and get first-hand information instead of relying on mainstream media. His writing was crisp and clear, and he brought a neutrality and objectivity to the peace movement.”
Chernos feels it was Doucette’s empathy that drove him to be involved in human rights, as well as a fierce interest in social attitudes and current affairs. “He cared about other people and he cared about politics. He was very much a political junkie.”
Longtime friend David Webster remembers a compassionate soul possessed of a fierce curiosity that uncovered some unsavoury activity in the early ’90s.
“Tim worked on a story about the Canadian army abusing Somali kids,” Webster says. “There was an inquiry that never went anywhere, but Tim used original documents to get to the story. He had good attention to detail.”
In addition to his peace activism Doucette believed ardently in equal rights for queer citizens.
“Tim always had his ear to the ground and shared stories both funny and sublime with our bi community,” says TBN member Lyla Miklos, who says she admired her friend’s wit and sense of camaraderie. “He was a fierce debater with a combative flair but was never mean-spirited.”
Members of TBN’s online discussion group received regular contributions from Doucette. Listserv moderator Tim Hill says he remembers Doucette as someone who was always ready to debate and disseminate information in an often playful manner.
“Tim had a bit of a mischievous streak about four miles wide,” says Hill, “but [he was] always engaging people, making them think.”
Politics and human rights weren’t Doucette’s only struggle in life; his long battle with alcoholism distressed those who loved him, and may have contributed to his premature death. Despite the aggressiveness of his disease Doucette diligently strove for a healthy lifestyle with frequent attendance of Alcoholics Anonymous, which he affectionately called “Gay A.”
I knew Tim Doucette well and mourn his passing. I remember one shared Christmas a few years ago with Tim laughing, telling stories and revelling in the company of friends. I admired his tenacious optimism in confronting his alcoholism and his genuine remorse at any sadness it caused those who cared for him.
Tim was a very sweet, gentle soul, whose only cutthroat moments were spent at a Scrabble board. His boyish smile, mop of curly hair and that deliciously wicked laugh are wonderful memories. So are the many stories he told of his beloved cat Katie, whose health and welfare he often put before his own needs.
Tim’s death at the terribly young age of 38 can only remind us how fragile our existence can be, and how essential it is to seize the day in striving for a better life — for ourselves and for others.
Those who loved him are deeply sad at losing our friend far too early, and feeling helpless that none could help free him from the alcoholism that became increasingly extreme over the last few years. Our thoughts and prayers are with his mother, father and two sisters at this tragic and sad time.