Baltimore, Maryland – Glen H. Footman, 52, died November 9 in the University of Maryland Shock and Trauma Center after what the Bangor Daily News called “a 14-month emotional and courageous battle for life” from gunshot wounds in a possible anti-LGBT hate attack in the Mouth Vernon section of Baltimore. Footman was shot twice on September 22, 2008 after being seen walking hand-in-hand with his soul-mate and life partner of 12 years, Alejandro Chavarria. According to Baltimore police, the two gay men were walking shortly after midnight when a young man on a bicycle came up behind them. Footman turned to speak to the young man while Chavarria walked on ahead. Chavarria shouted back to his partner, “Come on, let’s go,” when two shots rang out, and Footman fell, wounded to the pavement. As Chavarria ran to help Footman, the assailant ran from the scene, but then raced back to collect his bike, and then made his getaway. Police have been treating the case as a possible anti-gay hate crime from the beginning of their investigation. The Baltimore Sun reports that the victim’s father, H. Rodney Footman of Brewer, Maine spoke to reporters by phone to say that Baltimore police have not been encouraging about ever locating the shooter. The elder Footman has no doubt that his son was killed because he was gay. Shortly before the attack, Footman’s father said, a witness overhead the assailant brag, “‘I’m going to kill myself a gay tonight.’ He took off with that intention and he did just that. Police were very up front with us in saying that the chance of this ever being solved is practically nil.” Glen Footman’s death not only bereaves his relatives and his partner. Footman was a force for good in the community who will be sorely missed by many. He was a licensed alcohol and drug abuse counselor in Maine, Rhode Island, and Texas, and held degrees in business administration and pastoral theology. He counseled youth in Maine and Texas. He and Alex had moved to Maryland shortly before the shooting, where he was to take up a new job at an insurance company. He leaves behind two children from a previous marriage, Nicole Leah and Blaine Jonathan. His beloved Alex, who the Bangor Daily News calls Footman’s “sustaining grace during his last challenging year of physical and emotional struggle,” has returned to San Antonio, where he and Glen first met. Police have not yet ruled Footman’s death a homicide, pending the coroner’s report on whether the injuries sustained in the 2008 shooting were the actual cause of death.
Charles O. “Charlie” Howard, thrown off a downtown Bangor bridge and drowned in 1984 by young hoodlums intent on terrorizing a gay person, is being remembered all week in Maine with lectures, events, and church services. After 25 years, a monument to him is finally in place near the State Street Bridge beneath which he died. His death was terrifying and hard. According to the autopsy report revealed at the trial of his murderers, he died of a combination of asphyxia from drowning, and from a severe attack of asthma. Professor Marvin Ellison of Bangor Theological Seminary remembers how his killers were lauded as celebrities when the news got out. Young toughs rode through the streets of Bangor, spewing anti-gay hate speech and brandishing shotguns. Even so-called “decent people” adopted a wait-and-see attitude that masked their private belief that somehow the flaming gay boy with the man bag and the painted nails got what was coming to him. The only religious groups in town who spoke out against the hatred were the Unitarian Universalists and the Jews. It is hard to remember these things, hard on the self-image of a proud city. But it has to be done, lest something like this happens again, and Charlie will have died in vain. As Professor Ellison said recently to the Bangor Daily News,
“Now years later, it’s a healthy sign that many more people register embarrassment, outrage and, yes, even shame that such an event happened in their city, their state and their country. For those of us who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, we’ve learned the value of claiming the goodness of our lives and the healing power of pride. We’ve come to realize that we can honor Charlie Howard and others who have lost their lives by living our lives openly with self-respect and with determination to make the world safer for difference.”
Finally, in 2009, Maine has finally recognized same-sex marriage. Many see this as a vindication in some small way of the pain and suffering of a young gay man ‘way back in the Reagan Era.
Rest in peace, Charlie.
July 7 marks the twenty-fourth anniversary of Charles O. “Charlie” Howard’s murder in Bangor, Maine. As Charlie and his friend Roy Ogden walked on a downtown street, three teenagers accosted Charlie and his friend, shouted homophobic slurs, threw Charlie to the ground, and then punched and kicked him. The three youths decided to force Charlie over a bridge railing and into the Kenduskeag Stream twenty feet below. Ogden, who had initially fled from the assailants, looked back to see them throw Charlie over the railing. After sounding an alarm for help, Ogden, together with firemen and police, looked for his friend, whose body would not be found until hours later. On that same night, at a party, the three teenagers bragged about having thrown Charlie into the stream.
Today the Charles O. Howard Memorial Foundation and the City of Bangor are working to establish a granite monument to mark the place of Charlie’s murder. Despite earlier disagreements about the proposed memorial, the City of Bangor approved installation of the monument by unanimous vote during a City Council meeting last November.
Today the Unfinished Lives Project also remembers Charlie. The tragedy that befell Charlie twenty-four years ago still touches lives today, and as we remember him we also hope for a world where hate-crime violence no longer occurs.