RIP: RM Vaughan

News dropped a few days back that the body of Richard Vaughan had been found in New Brunswick. Richard was an old friend of mine, and all my memories of him are good. He was very supportive of my work in its earliest days, and very fun to be around. Hanging out with him made you feel like you were part of something. Such was the power of his charisma and personality that when he asked me, a straight 24-year old redneck dude who was living in a mostly Queer context at the time, on a date, I said yes without even thinking, and went out with him a few times. (You should read his poem “10 Reasons I Fall For Inaccessible Straight Boys Every Damn Time“) He was lovely and respectful and super kind, even when it felt like he was probably teasing you on some level you didn’t get, it felt like you were being included rather than excluded. We lost touch in the last 10 years or so, but would greet each other fondly if we bumped into one another. While I thought of him as a Toronto creature, the last year of his life was spent back in his home province, New Brunswick, working as a writer-in-residence in Fredericton. With Covid raging, Richard moved in with friends Amber MacMillan and Nathaniel Moore who led the movement of people searching for him. Bert Archer remembers him in the Globe and Nathaniel has written a lovely remembrance at The Star. Richard’s darkness was something you saw now and then, but it came and went like an untucked shirt, in my experience: something he didn’t notice was happening until he did, and tucked it back away. It’s upsetting me that I can’t find any pictures of us, but everything was on paper back then, so who knows where they are? I hope he’s found peace.

Richard Murray (RM) Vaughan, 55, was one of my closest friends, confidantes and collaborators. Two decades after I first met him, while growing up in Toronto publishing streams, Richard came home to New Brunswick in January, where I had been living for three years — when he was appointed Writer In Residence at the University of New Brunswick. It was a sort of CanLit relocation program and I was happy to see him. He was here only a short while when COVID-19 hit and he was booted from his digs in downtown Fredericton, so we asked him to live with us which, thankfully to us all, he did, on March 1. My wife, 11-year-old daughter, four cats and a new puppy were soon familiar with his hilarious personality, and his love of crafting — which would greet us in many forms every few days. Sometimes a collage would appear on my desk, left like a proud grade-school child bringing home work he’d made during art class.

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