Brian Moriarty looks much calmer sitting by the seashore than he did in provincial court.
As the sun blazes down on this unusually warm spring day on the Southern Shore, he watches the waves lap gently at the rocks, just as he did many times as a boy.
“It’s just so relaxing here,” he said, sighing, during an interview earlier this week.
“I absolutely love it.”
But the tranquility of the ocean and the warm soft breeze can’t calm the internal storm he’s been weathering.
Moriarty’s life is in shambles.
Between his troubles with the law and the troubles in his relationship, he feels lost.
The 29-year-old garnered plenty of attention two weeks ago after he was arrested in connection with what was said to have been a stabbing on Jensen Camp Road in the west end of St. John’s.
Moriarty and his partner, Joshua Kojak (pronounced HOY-ek), were taken into custody after the police were called to their house to break up a disturbance.
Neighbours said the incident involved knives and/or scissors. Blood could be seen smeared on their door and pooled on their front step.
Both men were injured, but Kojak seemed to be hurt the worst. When he first appeared in court after being treated at hospital, he was wincing with pain.
No charges were laid as a result of the alleged stabbing, but both men were charged with breaching court orders — including one that they stay away from each other.
Moriarty and Kojak were granted bail with conditions and a strict warning from the judge to have no contact with each other.
Kojak was taken into custody again Wednesday for reportedly breaching a condition to abstain from alcohol.
“It was just awful,” Moriarty said of the bloody incident, closing his eyes and shaking his head.
“I don’t even want to think about that night,”
He knows many people heard about it and drew their own conclusions. Some people were outraged and said the pair belonged in jail, while others dismissed it as a lovers’ spat.
“Oh, I’m sure everybody knows about the two queers who apparently stab each other,” Moriarity said, rolling his eyes and gesturing with his cigarette.
“It’s been a huge embarrassment. It’s hard being gay. You’re made fun of your whole life, and now this.
“It’s like having all your dirty laundry out there for everyone to see. I’m sure there’s a lot of amusement coming from our misery.“
But the story of Moriarty and Kojak, whose faces have been all over local newspapers, TV stations and media websites recently, is much more complex.
“You have no idea what I’ve been through since all this happened,” Moriarty said, tears suddenly running down his face.
Moriarty is so embarrassed by the publicity, he didn’t want The Telegram to show his face in photographs taken for this article, even though he was photographed during court appearances.
“I don’t want my picture to be seen anymore than it has,” he said. “People can be cruel.”
He didn’t want his hometown named, to spare his family further shame.
He said he’s seen the chastising looks from people in the community, the whispers and the pointing.
“I guess I should be used to it by now,” he said. “People have always kind of looked at me funny.”
When asked when he realized he was gay, he laughs and says, “I say to guys, ‘Well, when did you become interested in girls? Age 10? Well, there you go.’
He never “came out” to his family, but he’s never hidden his sexuality either.
Growing up homosexual in a small town, he was the target of taunts and countless schoolyard fights.
“I’ve been beaten up so many times, I’ve lost count,” he said.
“I still fear for my safety, especially since all this happened.”
Moriarty said his life changed forever nearly two years ago when he met Kojak.
The two were introduced by a mutual friend and their relationship soon blossomed. Moriarty figured he had found his soulmate.
But six to 12 months into the relationship, things turned ugly, thanks to the toxic mix of alcohol and troubled pasts.
Arguments escalated into fist fights. They were arrested several times and wound up in court.
Moriarty won’t discuss Kojak’s Inuit upbringing except to say he’s had a troubled life plagued with abuse and addictions.
“So when he drinks, all the demons come out, and I have my own issues,” he said, breaking into tears again.
After quickly composing himself, he says, “This has been going on for a couple of years.
“It’s only recently the police have found something to charge us with.”
He suspects both he and Kojak have mental health problems.
Before they ran into trouble, Moriarty had never had a run-in with the law.
Now that he’s part of the justice system, he said he’s noticed problems with how it deals with homosexual relationships. He said there’s a lack of support shown to gays and that makes it harder for he and Kojak to deal with their issues and stay out of trouble.
Being ordered to stay away from each other is not enough, he said.
“It just seems the system is set up for a male/female dynamic, which is probably wrong and sexist anyway,” he said.
“If this was a male/female (situation), the female would be put in a shelter, or be taken out of the home or get some kind of help provided to her.
“But when you have two men in a domestic dispute, they just don’t know what to do. They scratch their heads, wondering, ‘Who’s the bad guy?’
“(Her Majesty’s Penitentiary) is the Iris Kirby House of battered men. It’s almost as if the system is as dyslexic as our relationship.”
He and Kojak been through domestic court, which Moriarty said was helpful. The problem was, he said, that once they were released on probation there was no further support.
“I thought probation would include some kind of counselling — which we desperately need because it’s hard to control this — but it didn’t,” he said.
“I thought somebody would come by and check up on us to see if we’re OK, but nobody did. We truly do need to be made to go to counselling or some kind of supervision.
“Now it’s to the point where I’m facing jail time, my boyfriend is facing jail time. We’re both being demonized.”
Moriarty said he did receive counselling once in the past few years, but it was no longer available to him once he was charged with criminal offences.
While he acknowledges how helpful Victim Services has been to him in the past and says he is grateful for the staff’s many kindnesses, he is frustrated by the policy that does not allow for counselling once a victim himself has been charged.
“So, if you shoplift a bag of Doritos and that charge is pending, you will not receive counselling help from Victim Services, even if somebody beats you to a bloody pulp … because that’s their policy.”
The court has ordered that he and Kojak have no contact for the next 16 months.
“It’s hard being without him,” he admitted. “I’m dealing with my own pain, but I worry about Josh, too. I know he misses me and I miss him and we can’t talk. We can’t even have a supervised visitation.
“This is a family, but it’s not being treated as such. I mean, if there were kids involved, it would be a whole lot different.”
He doesn’t know where the relationship stands or whether it will survive.
“We’re in this stand-still position right now. Are we ever going to get back together? Is this a break or just a pause?
“It’s difficult for the courts to end relationships like that with a karate chop. You’re setting people up for failure when there’s restrictions involved like that.”
Where does he go from here?
The question makes him pause and his eyes fill with tears.
“I don’t know,” he said softly.
“It’s hard to see past this right now, especially with jail hanging over our heads.
“Neither of us wanted it to come to this.”
But in many ways he’s glad things have come to this. Now that they both realize the seriousness of it, maybe something will be done, he said.
“Neither me nor my boyfriend are bad people. We’re just obviously troubled and in need of help,” he said.
“It’s gotten to the point where help is jail for both of us, something has derailed somewhere, something has gone askew.
“I know the Crown sits there and is supposed to represent the views of society. Well, nothing in this is good for me or good for Josh. We’ve been torn apart and are facing jail time.
“Something had to stop this. I agree with that, but the way in which it’s coming to an end is not beneficial for anyone.”