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"Beautiful, unique, gay, disabled man," mourned

Tue 20 Nov 2012 In: New Zealand Daily News

Shaun McKinney died on Sunday Tributes are flowing for a Rainbow Youth Board member and facilitator who will be remembered for his bravery and advocacy work. Shaun McKinney died on Sunday, aged just 26. McKinney had Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, something friends say never stopped him from not only living his dreams, but also encouraging others to do so. Fellow gay man and advocate for those with disabilities Philip Patston says McKinney was a “beautiful, unique, gay, disabled man”. He continues: “I am overwhelmed by the many people Shaun had connections with. His compassion has influenced the world in ways we may not know immediately but will resonate in years to come.” McKinney was much-loved at Auckland-based GLBT youth organisation Rainbow Youth, where he started as a facilitator of the Queer 4 Shore group around 2009. He also served on the Rainbow Youth board for two and a half terms. “It was only in the past year that Shaun had chosen to step down from the board, but he was also very engaged in a number of other community organisation and social enterprise projects,” says Rainbow Youth Executive Director Tom Hamilton. “Rainbow Youth board, staff and members were devastated to find out that Shaun had passed on Sunday. Many of us have shared our recognition of his work with Rainbow Youth on Facebook and shared photos of him the past few days. “These members and others involved with the organisation highlight the huge input Shaun had in our community. From his ability to be part of his community and his can do attitude and compassion,” Hamilton says. “Shaun influenced many of his peers and was the epitome of our organisations kaupapa. The Rainbow Youth motto is ‘know who you are, be who you are’. Shaun embodied this completely. Shaun shared with us his time and passion for changing the world we live in to be better place for everyone. Our organisation will remember him for his compassion, joyous energy, charming smile, integrity and wisdom.” Former Rainbow Youth Chair John Kingi adds that McKinney was an advocate for the rainbow community and ensuring those with disabilities were never forgotten. “He was also an amazing person. It was an honour to have known him.” Rainbow Youth is sending its condolences to his whanau. “Shaun will always be in our hearts and inspire our mahi at Rainbow Youth,” Hamilton says. “Thank you Shaun for your phenomenal contribution. The lesson for us that Shaun inspired is to keep giving and trying to achieve, be present and compassionate.” Donations in Memory of Shaun may be made to the: Muscular Dystrophy Association, PO Box 16238, Sandringham, Auckland, 1351    

Credit: GayNZ.com Daily News staff

First published: Tuesday, 20th November 2012 - 9:27am

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