"When I finally got to see my son, he was already on life support. His hands were so cold; I wanted to warm him up. I told him that everything would be all right now, because Mom was here. I prayed to God to please let him be OK, and to let me take Sean's place, because he hadn't been able to live his life." - Elke Kennedy
Over at Huffington Post, Elke Kennedy has composed a touching Mother's Day essay in which she reaches out to parents who reject their LGBT children (often at the urging of church pastors).
Five years ago, Elke's son Sean was the victim of a hate crime. The 20-year-old South Carolina native was walking along the sidewalk when Stephen Moller jumped from a vehicle and started calling him a "faggot." Moller punched Sean the face, fracturing his cheek bones. As Sean's head hit the asphalt his brain was detached from the brain stem. Incredibly, the cold-blooded killer later left a phone message for one of Sean's female friends: "Hey. (laughter) Whoa stop. (laughter) Hey, I was just wondering how your boyfriend’s feeling right about now. (laughter) (??) knocked the fuck out. (laughter). The fucking faggot. He ought to never stick his mother-fucking nose (??) Where are you going? Just a minute. (laughter). Yea boy, your boy is knocked out, man. The motherfucker. Tell him he owes me $500.00 for breaking my goddam hand on his teeth that fucking bitch."
Sean never woke up. He died of injuries sustained in this unprovoked and senseless attack. Writes Elke Kennedy:
We gathered at Sean's bed in a state of complete exhaustion and shock as we were told that he was brain-dead. Sixty young people had been with us at the hospital all day and night, telling me so many stories about Sean, about how they loved him and needed him. Now I had to go out there and tell these young people that their friend had died, but that he would live on in others, because he'd donated his organs. Each of the kids got to go back and say their goodbyes. It was so difficult to hear their goodbyes and see all their emotions. Now I had to plan his memorial service, and our church told us that we could have the service there. Then, that Friday, after everything had been communicated to family and friends and the newspaper, we received a phone call telling us that the elders of the church had decided that we could not have the service there after all, because Sean was gay. After many phone calls back and forth, they allowed us to have the service there in the end. However, afterwards, we were no longer welcome at the church.
Although there is a growing epidemic of similar tragedies in South Carolina, the state still has no hate crimes prevention law. Whenever a measure is introduced by Democratic legislators, conservative Republicans vote it down, ensuring that violence against LGBT citizens is punished with a slap on the wrist, if it's punished at all.
Despite Moller's indefensible murder of young Kennedy, a "good ole boy" district attorney decided to charge this violent individual only with manslaughter, and Moller's lawyer persuaded a homophobic judge to suspend his client's three-year sentence. So Sean's killer is now walking the streets, a free man, after serving a paltry twelve months behind bars.
"Grin" by Sean Kennedy
I stand tall with all of my pride
You try to bring me down
All who are not like you?
Yes, your words do hurt
But, I stand in the end
I am a stronger person
Bigger then you
My pride keeps me Happy
And much better then you
My pride keeps me strong through
all, thick and thin
When I see you unhappy
With not friends
I'll be standing with a grin.
The world was robbed of Sean's grin by a culture of intolerance that infects the Deep South. Right-wing Christian zealots are mainly responsible for introducing the virus of anti-gay hate into society. Their mode of transmission is the pulpit.