WERU News Report 5/24/11

Producer/Host: John Greenman & Amy Browne

In the summer of 1984 Charlie Howard was murdered in Bangor by a group of high school students. They accosted him and a friend as they walked downtown one evening, shouting homophobic slurs and throwing Charlie — who couldn’t swim and who had asthma– off the State Street bridge into the Kenduskeag Stream. As his friend ran for help, Charlie drowned.
Charlie Howard was openly and proudly gay and he was harrassed constantly in the Bangor community. He proudly refused to hide who he was, even after someone killed his beloved kitten, apparently as a threat.
In the months following his death, the GLBT community in Maine held marches in his memory, and had things thrown at them as they marched. Only a very few local religious leaders spoke in their support. There was vocal support for the murderers among some greater Bangor residents. When reporting on the anniversary of Charlie Howards death a few years back, I was told by several people that they were driven “back into the closet”, not only by what happened to Charlie, but by how the community responded.
2 years ago a small, stone memorial was placed at the site where Charlie was killed. The inscription reads: “May we, the citizens of Bangor, continue to change the world around us until hatred becomes peacemaking and ignorance becomes understanding.”
2 weeks ago, vandals painted the words “die fag” on the memorial.
Saturday morning a vigil was held, organized by Dignity For All Campaign, to “re-affirm that hatred and intolerance have no place in our community.”
WERU’s John Greenman recorded the event. Tom Grogan, PICA Director and Dignity For All campaign, Co-coordinator was the emcee:

FMI: www.pica.ws , www.equalitymaine.org , www.glsen.org