Two locals have gone missing from Toronto's Gay Village, raising the specter of other gay men who have disappeared in the last seven years.
Police in Toronto have launched a task force to look into the disappearances of Andrew Kinsman and Selim Esen, two gay men in their 40s who disappeared in separate incidents over the past four months.
Kinsman, 49, was well-known in the community and a volunteer with people with HIV/AIDS. He disappeared suddenly more than a month ago, leaving his cat unfed and his friends in the dark.
On the last day he was seen, he told a friend he was going home to make dinner after a Pride party—he seemed “happy and upbeat," the friend reported.
Posters now line the Village begging for information about his whereabouts.
Esen, meanwhile, was last seen April 15 on Ted Rogers Way. Police report the 43-year-old was known to frequent the Church and Wellesley Street area, as well as Kensington Market.
The link between the two, besides their age and sexual orientation, is that both frequently used hookup apps like Grindr and Scruff.
Locally, there's been discussion of 11 men total having gone missing, as well as the possibility of a serial killer targeting homosexuals. However five of those missing persons turned up safely, and one was found dead in what police ruled a suicide.
But there are still three earlier disappearances unaccounted for, dating from 2010 to 2012. Like Kinsman and Esen, all three men were middle-aged. And, with the exception of Kinsman, all were immigrants and men of color: Majeed Kayhan, 58, and Basir Faizi, 44, of Afghanistan, and 40-year-old Skandaraj “Skanda” Navaratnam of Sri Lanka, who was last seen leaving a gay bar, Zippers, with another man in September 2010.
Because of their backgrounds, these men were more likely to be closeted, too: Faizi disappeared after he told his wife he was grabbing drinks with coworkers. In reality he went to popular gay bathhouse, Steamworks. (Police found his car two weeks later parked in front of a notorious cruising ground.)
Kayhan lived in the Village but, while he was out to Toronto's gay community, he was still closeted to his Afghani family. It was his son who reported his disappearance—he was last seen by his family at a wedding on October 14, but wasn’t reported missing until nearly two weeks later.
Navaratnam was known to skip town for a day or two, but he was also responsible: He took care of an elderly person for work and had just gotten a puppy when he went missing. “Even if somebody is pissed off at the whole world, and they want to go disappear, you take your dog,” friend Jean-Guy Cloutier told Xtra. “It’s out of character for him.”
Authorities haven't ruled out the possibility of a serial killer targeting the Village, but believe it to a remote one. "There is a balancing act associated with this, because there is a great deal of information which cannot be released in relation to this investigation.”
A town hall meeting with police is being held tonight to discuss the situation.