Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

NC Gay Couple Harassed for a Year, Then Burned Out of Home

WRAL photo and graphic

Clayton, NC – A gay couple anonymously hiding in a motel out of fear for their safety, were burned out of house and home on Friday. Neighbors say the gay men suffered at least three deliberate acts of anti-gay harassment for over a year – but the neighbors are too scared to identify themselves, either. So Johnston County law enforcement, working from a state arson statute that doesn’t allow for violence against gay men as a hate crime, have determined that the burnout was “just arson.” Like 9/11 was “just some plane crashes.”  Or like the murder of Ugandan gay activist David Kato was “just a robbery gone bad.”  North Carolina has not seen fit to include sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression as protected classes in its existing hate crimes laws. So, an act of blatant hate crime terror that holds a gay couple and their whole neighborhood in fear is playing with matches. That is all this deed will remain officially unless the U.S. Justice Department invokes the Matthew Shepard Act to rectify neglectful conduct by the Johnston County Sheriff’s Department. WRAL.com interviewed a frightened, anonymous neighbor, who is sure that the three incidents of harassment were related to anti-gay hatred: “A note with derogatory language was left in the mailbox, an anti-gay slur was written on the house with marker, and the tires of a car parked in the garage were slashed.” The gay men’s friend and neighbor continued, “I felt sick to my stomach. I felt so sorry for the two gentlemen. They lost everything. We do believe that this is a hate crime.” The couple was out of town when other residents in the Winston Pointe subdivision discovered the fire belching from the brick veneer home at 1:30 a.m. Friday and called the alarm in. Flames quickly engulfed the structure, gutting it and destroying all the couple’s possessions. The American Red Cross has stepped in to offer food, clothing, and insurance contacts to the victims. Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell says that the investigation has turned up no suspects yet. Bizzell acknowledged that he knew of two out of the three incidents of harassment against the gay men this past year, but he would not say which two.

February 10, 2011 - Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Arson, gay men, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Legislation, Matthew Shepard Act, North Carolina, Slurs and epithets, U.S. Justice Department, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment

  1. Don’t jump to conclusions on this one. A lot of people have the suspicion that this is insurance fraud. To add to the strangeness, this area in NC has a history of arson cases. A church was brned down twice. But I hope the arson investigators will find the truth, no matter which way it goes.

    Comment by JayT | February 17, 2011

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: