In honor of Pride month, this week, Drewby and Yergy discuss the tragic case of Charlie Howard, a young gay man that was murdered in Bangor, ME in 1984, who never really received justice due to his sexual orientation.
As Howard and his boyfriend, Roy Ogden, were walking down the street, three teenagers, Shawn Mabry, James Baines, and Daniel Ness, harassed, assaulted, and murdered Howard for being gay. The youths chased the pair, yelling homophobic epithets, until they caught Howard and threw him over the State Street Bridge into the Kenduskeag Stream, despite his pleas that he could not swim. He drowned, but his boyfriend escaped and pulled a fire alarm.
Charlie Howard’s body was found by rescue workers several hours later. The boys were sent to the Hancock County Jail and later released into their parents’ custody. They were tried as juveniles and sentenced on 1 October 1984 to the Maine Youth Center not to exceed their 21st birthdays, however all parties served less than 24 months. This event galvanized the Bangor community in ways similar to the killing of Matthew Shepard, although the case never attained the same level of national notoriety.
This incident inspired a similar scene near the beginning of Stephen King’s novel It, in which three homophobic teenagers throw an openly gay man, Adrian Mellon, over a bridge and into the Kenduskeag, where he was set upon and murdered by the monster It in the form of Pennywise.
Today, a short distance from the site of Howard’s death, a memorial has been erected; engraved on the stone are the words: “May we, the citizens of Bangor, continue to change the world around us until hatred becomes peacemaking and ignorance becomes understanding.” July 7, Howard’s death date, is now Diversity Day in Bangor.
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