Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Overflow Crowd Lays Jason Mattison, Jr. To Rest in Baltimore; Murder Investigation Continues

East Baltimore, Maryland – An overflow crowd packed the Unity United Methodist Church on Edmundson Avenue in Baltimore Thursday for the funeral of slain gay teenager, Jason Mattison, Jr.  The Baltimore Sun reports that the principal of Mattison’s high school announced the establishment of a scholarship in his memory at the service. “No one is truly gone if you carry them in your heart,” Principal Starletta Jackson said. “And Jason is a part of our heart. We all knew that Jason wanted to be a pediatrician. There was never a question of whether or not he was going to make it. Some children we have to pray over a lot — pray for grades that they pass, but we never worried about that with Jason.”  Rev. Patricia D. Johnson, speaking to the mourners, said that young Mattison’s brutal murder serves as a warning to parents to watch over their children in neighborhood of rundown row houses that the church serves.  At times during the 90-minute service, teen classmates who loved the sassy, joyous gay boy with his signature tight jeans and cool sweaters were so overcome with emotion they had to excuse themselves from the church sanctuary.  No doubt he left his mark on their lives and on the Harlem Park neighborhood where he lived.  Principal Jackson concluded her remarks, “We will miss you, Jason, but know that your memory will never be lost.”  Mystery surrounds the grisly murder.  Dante L. Parrish was arrested and confessed to the rape and slaughter of Mattison, and is being held without bail.  Mattison’s cousin described him as “an old family friend,” presumably of Mattison’s aunt, where the gay youth’s body was found in an upstairs closet, gagged with a pillowcase and savagely stabbed in the head and neck with a box cutter.  Conflicting accounts of why Mattison was at his aunts’ house have come from family members.  His cousin says that he was “visiting relatives.”  His paternal grandmother has said that her grandson was actually living in the home rather than in his parents’ home, suggesting some possible alienation or estrangement that Mattison kept under wraps at school.  While he was an open book insofar as his sexual orientation was concerned, he was tightlipped about his home life and his living situation around his classmates.  Family sources also suggest that Parrish had exhibited an unhealthy interest in Mattison for some time, one that allegedly made the gay youth uncomfortable.  As the investigation into one of Baltimore’s worst bias-related hate crimes continues, the search for answers about his family’s relationship with a convicted murderer and their attitude toward Mattison’s homosexuality goes on.  On Sunday, vigils and protests related to Jason’s horrific death and that of slain Puerto Rican gay teen, Jorge Steven López Mercado, took place in more than 20 cities around the country, from coast-to-coast.

November 23, 2009 - Posted by | African Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Condolences, gay men, Hate Crimes, Law and Order, Maryland, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Protests and Demonstrations, rape, Remembrances, stabbings, Torture and Mutilation, Vigils | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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