Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Gay Teen’s Home Defaced By Homophobic Vandals: “God Don’t Love You”

Pace, Florida – A gay Florida teenager found his trailer home covered inside and out with homophobic slurs, swastikas, and obscene images upon returning home on February 3.  Jesse Jeffers, 18, who is openly gay, says it was an act of retaliation that focused on his sexual orientation. When Jeffers and his boyfriend came back to his mobile home in Pace, a town of 7,400 in the Panhandle of Florida, near Pensacola, they were angered and astonished by the vandalism.  Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Deputies are calling the act an anti-gay hate crime because it centered on Jeffers’ identity as a gay man, according to the Pensacola News Journal.

Jesse Jeffers, gay teenager, outside his vandalized trailer home.

Jesse Jeffers, gay teenager, outside his vandalized trailer home.

 

Jeffers, who had moved into the trailer adjacent to his mother’s home three months prior to the vandals’ attack, says that he knows who did this to him. At least one person had threatened him before the attack.  Huffington Post reports that the gay teen, who is working on his GED certificate, has been the target of homophobic bullying in Santa Rosa County schools for years.  The hatefulness of the act has caused Jeffers to fear living in his home any longer, and has taken up residence with his mother again. Though a neighbor’s surveillance camera supposedly caught the vandals in the act, and authorities have promised that warrants will probably be issued in the hate crime case “soon,” Jeffers is cautious and fearful for his safety.  “I don’t know if they’re going to do it again,” Jeffers told the Huffington Post. “Or if there are copycats. It’s basically a small town with a bunch of rednecks.”Until the perpetrators are caught and convicted, and some form of restitution kicks in, Jeffers fears he will have to endure the disapproval of his community.  He cannot afford to repair the damage and repaint the trailer. The glaring slurs, swastikas, and images spray painted on his trailer have made it “a tourist attraction,” according to Jeffers.  “Everybody drives by every day and stops and looks,” he said.

Even religion was employed by the vandals in their attempt to terrorize the teen.  Inside the mobile home, near the large red swastika on the ceiling and the defaced drapery, Jeffers’ attackers scrawled “God don’t love you,” employing a heart sign in place of the word “love.” Jeffers shows considerable maturity in the face of such religious-based bigotry.  As he told the Pensacola News Journal, “Sexuality doesn’t matter. God loves you either way.”

One of the proofs of God’s approval is the vigorous assistance of an LGBT-friendly church in the area that is raising funds to help with the cleanup of Jeffers’ home.  News of the attack is spreading since the News Journal first published its story in early February. Donations and offers of assistance have been accumulating from sympathetic people from the region and around the country since the vandals shattered the teen’s sense of security.  “There’s a bunch of nice people out there that I didn’t even know existed that care,” Jeffers said to Huffington Post.

Meanwhile, the perpetrators are still at large, and the investigation is proceeding.  Jeffers may prove to be one of the luckier members of the LGBT community in the Sunshine State. Florida officials report that in 2011, for the first time in history, the number of physical assaults against gay and lesbian people was larger than the number of cases of property damage.

 

February 18, 2013 Posted by | Anti-LGBT hate crime, Bullying in schools, Florida, gay teens, GLBTQ, Hate Crime Statistics, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Slurs and epithets, Unsolved LGBT Crimes, vandalism | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

   

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