Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Remembering Sean William Kennedy (1987-2007)

April 8 would be Sean Kennedy’s birthday, if someone hadn’t killed him for being gay.  Sean would have been 23.  He would be doing all those things he loved to do on his birthday, according to his Facebook Profile: Hanging OutMusic“Playing” MusicTalkingBeing Crazy,Going OutMoviesDriving Around Being CrazyListening To MusicWatching My ShowsClubs (When Im In The Mood)But in the wee hours of May 16, 2007, a fun night at Croc’s Bar in Greenville, South Carolina turned deadly when a homophobic young white man took it upon himself to punish Sean for being “other.”  Sean’s mom, Elke Kennedy, relates what happened that night on the home page of Sean’s Last Wish, a foundation she and the family established so that Sean’s memory would live on, and his story would continue to change hearts and minds about LGBT people in America: “[That night] Sean was leaving a local bar in Greenville when a car pulled up beside him, a young man got out of the car, came around the car, approached my son, called him a ‘faggot’ and then punched him so hard that it broke his face bones.  He fell back and hit the asphalt.  This resulted in his brain [being] separated from his brain stem, ricocheting around in his head.  Sean never had a chance.  Sean’s killer got back in his car and left my son dying there.  A little later he left a message on one of the girl’s phones who knew Sean, saying, ‘You tell your faggot friend that when he wakes up he owes me $500 for my broken hand!'”  Stephen Moller, Sean’s 19-year-old killer, was given virtually every break the legal system in South Carolina could give him.  He was sentenced to 5 years for involuntary manslaughter by subtly shifting the blame to his victim, and pleading for special treatment because he had fathered a child.  The sentence was shortened to 3 years, he was given credit for time served and for being a good prisoner.  Moller was given an early release parole hearing in February 2009, but thanks to the efforts of his mother, his stepfather, and hundreds of letter-writing protestors from around the nation, he was denied parole.  Even then, Moller, who had gotten his GED behind bars, was released on July 7, 2009, a full week early from the already short sentence he had served for killing a young gay man who did him no harm other than being who he was.  The justice system failed Sean as it has failed so many before and since.  Elke Kennedy has gone on to become one of the most courageous and effective witnesses to the rights of LGBT youth in the United States.  Sean’s Last Wish Foundation is making a difference for LGBT young men and women every day.  But Sean is gone.  The loss of his life is inestimable to his family, to the queer community, to his friends, and to the world he made a better and happier place because of his unquenchable spirit.  One of his favorite sayings rings as true today as it did when he first published it on MySpace and Facebook: “We Could Learn Alot From Crayons” he wrote: “some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, some have weird names, and all are differant colors… but they all exist very nicely in the same box.”  Who was this funny, wise, vivacious gay soul?  We read his words about himself, and catch just a glimpse of what we lost when hatred and ignorance took Sean away:  “i am 19 and my name is sean. i live in greenville, sc. it is a boring city. i love to meet new people. i love hanging out with people, chilling, shopping and having have a crazy fun time. ill do anything , i can have a fun time doing anything. i can have a fun time doing anything. i am a fun and crazy guy. ill do almost anything.im always on. so dont be scared to leave me a message.” We wish we could, Sean, today on your birthday.  It will have to suffice that we will work in your name, remembering you, until justice comes for all your people and ours.

April 8, 2010 - Posted by | Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Beatings and battery, Blame the victim, gay men, harassment, Hate Crimes, Law and Order, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Remembrances, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, South Carolina | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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