SC Hate Crime: Mother of Sean Kennedy Speaks Out

Authorities are still trying to decide whether they will bring hate crime charges against Steven Andrew Moller, the 18-year-old who took Sean Kennedy’s life away with a punch last week outside Brew’s Bar in Greenville, South Carolina. Moller has been charged with murder and is being held without bond at Greenville County Detention Center.

Kennedy was leaving Brew’s Bar when Moller jumped from a car, punched him, and then fled. Kennedy, who was felled by the punch, died 17 hours later.

KennedyKennedy’s mother, Elke Parker, has spoken out about her heartbreaking loss. She told News Channel 7-Greenville that Sean Kennedy, the third child in the family, was out to them:

“When Sean told me he was gay, he said ‘mom, I understand if you don’t want to love me anymore.’ I told him there is nothing, ever, that you can do to make me stop loving him. I never thought that who Sean was, is what would take his life.”

She added: “You never think to talk to your son about do you want to be cremated or do you want to be buried? I can’t believe how much hate there is in this world. He was a leader. He was a friend. He was just a giver. No matter what you needed, you didn’t even have to ask. On his Myspace we had over 50,000 hits within two days, with messages from people. We knew Sean, we loved Sean, he did this for me, this is how he helped me. I am proud that I was his mom. No. I am proud that I am is mom, not was. This young man made such an impact on people’s lives. He died way too soon, but, he will be remembered.”

Kennedy2Parker says she will push for hate crime laws in South Carolina in her son’s memory: “It may not help Sean today, but I want it to help future victims that they can be assured that there is justice. If your son or daughter is different, you need to support them for who they really need to be.”

Parker shared a poem Sean had written that she discovered in his room.


I stand tall with all of my pride.
You hate.
You discriminate all who are not like you.
Yes, your words do hurt.
But I stand in the end.
I’m a strong person, bigger than you…
I’ll be standing there with a grin.

The family is starting a non-profit called Sean’s Last Wish to push for a hate crime bill. Details have not yet been released.


  1. Matt says

    Thanks for posting this Andy. When we here in SC get more details, we will pass them on. His funeral was attended by nearly 700 people- I know he will be missed.

  2. Brian says

    What a cool mom. I’m so sorry for her loss. It’s a loss for all of us, really.

  3. ShawnSF says

    Beautiful post. What an incredible response to the violence and hatred in this world.

  4. Derrick from Philly says

    The other day, Andy used the term “screwed up religious people” to describe hateful fanatics who use religion to justify persecution of gay folks, or folks who don’t share there views. Now, I have no proof that the savage who killed Sean Kennedy was a religious fanatic, but the state in which he lives is ruled by right-wing religious fanatics. There unabashed hateful talk against gay people helps to fuel this type of sub-human violence. Then, I remind myself, hey, we have horrible incidents of gay bashing in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York too. Well, yeah, we got phoney, foul-mouthed, foul brained preachers, priests, imams, and rabbis up here too. Wherever these sanctimonious bastards are– they help create the proper atmosphere for killing gay people.

  5. Zeke says

    I thank Sean’s mother and brother for responding to this horrible personal tragedy with strength, courage and determination to not let their son/brother’s death be in vain.

    Like the mother of Matthew Shepard, who refuses to suffer in silence while other mother’s lose their children to mindless hate, Sean’s mother will turn her enormous grief into righteous anger and will be a powerful force in the fight against hate violence.

    There is NO force more powerful or determined than the broken heart of a grieving parent.

    Ms. Parker and Jason, you are now and forever in my thoughts and prayers.

  6. peterparker says

    “Authorities are still trying to determine whether or not they will bring hate crime charges…”?

    My God, what more evidence do these dumb rednecks need to decide that it should be prosecuted as a hate crime? (And before anyone jumps on my case about calling southerners ‘rednecks’, I spent the first 18 years of my life in an isolated town of three hundred people in south Georgia. I know from redneck.)

    As for Sean’s mother, I feel so bad for her loss. I hope she knows that the gay community loves her and cares about her in the same way that we care about Judy Shepard. And I hope that she and the rest of the family can take some small amount of solace in that knowledge.

    Finally, I hope it isn’t crass for me to say this, but Sean was a beautiful kid.

  7. dan says

    re: hate crime charges.
    Actually, Peter the Greenville authorities responded very quickly, and turned the case over to the FBI to determine whether to prosecute under federal hate crime laws. Sorry you had a bad experience as a kid, but speaking as someone who grew up in the upstate region of SC, its not at all how you’ve characterized it.

  8. pacificoceanboy says


    I to thought of Mathew’s mom when I read Sean’s mom’s response.

    You know, it wouldn’t be a bad idea at a later date to raise money for a plane ticket to fly mathew’s mom to hang out and comfort / comisserate with Sean’s mom. I am sure she would go and there is no comparison between the gay communities well wishing and an actual fellow mother who also suffered the loss of a beloved son via hate.

    Hmmmm, I am thinking donations made to Shepards cause with a little note attached “for a future plain ticket to visit Sean kennedy’s mom”.

    Damn, zeke…this story never actualy brought a tear to my eye till your post got me thinking and writing this post.

    Wiping away a tears
    crazy POB

    PS I just had an epiphany. Didn’t MADD at one time have all their mothers march on DC and stand their in silence holding shoes or something and then leaving a field of thousands upon thousands of shoes around the capitol? Somebody needs to organize a gathering of mothers of all these murdered brothers and sisters of ours in DC and have them march on the capitol. Now that would be freaking tearful and powerful.

  9. Jeff in Deserto says

    Something doesn’t add up. How can the authorities consider charging it as a hate crime if sexual orientation isn’t a hate crime category in SC? And if it is, why would there be a need to push for hate crimes law in SC?

    BTW, this week I decided to move to SC, even though this tragedy happened in the midst of my job negotiations.

  10. dan says

    jeff — the authorities they are talking about are the FBI. The Greenville sheriff’s department turned that part of the case over to the FBI, to investigate if it should be prosecuted under federal hate crime laws. If the FBI says no, it comes back to SC to prosecute under the laws of the state, presumably manslaughter. Congrats on the job and you’ll love SC. Its a great place.

  11. John Kennedy says

    Seans myspace is no longer private btw. thanks for posting my moms interview, it means alot.


  12. WithLove says

    He was so beautiful. A little angel gone too soon..

    All my love and prayers go out to you and your family John.

  13. Joe T. says

    I don’t know if it was a “hate crime” or not, but what a stupid thing. Fighting should be relegated to the boxing ring. Now anger and one bad punch and a mother has to suffer the loss of her son and a guy has to suffer the loss of his brother.

  14. says

    From SC y’all. I’ve burning up the phone lines to our House and Senate Judiciary members. There are two bills stuck in both comittees (H) 3738 & (S) 440. Funny thing is that each comittee has a representative from Greenville on it – but wait – they are both fronts for the Right Wing Religious Mafia down here. These people passed a law allowing our public school to teach Bible classes THIS WEEK! That’s how much they care about all the people they serve. Funny how every Republican candidate seems to have to bow at the alter of Bob Jones University to get a lock on the good Christain’s votes in the primary next Feb.

    My thoughts are with Sean’s family. Thank you Andy for giving me more information on this story then it is getting in the local press here.

    Don’t knock the Greenville police, yet. The were smart enought to recognize that they had a hate crime in a state where there are no laws against hate crimes. Giving the case over to the FBI was a wise move. The FBI giving back to the local officials should have people in arms about our local representatives not passing the Bills on deck. All we are getting from the comittee members is silence on this issue.

    Even sadder is that I would love to kick some politicians in the ass for they’re ignorance.

    Y’all South Carolina is a great place to live – but – be warned about living in the upstate.

  15. says

    “Actually, Peter the Greenville authorities responded very quickly, and turned the case over to the FBI to determine whether to prosecute under federal hate crime laws”

    Sexual orientation is not a protected catagory under federal law, so this was nothing more than a PR move on the part of the local police. Such a bill is now before the Senate and is called “The Matthew Shepherd Act.” Contact your Senators and demand passage of it. The House has already passed it, and I was part of the lobby team on the Hill to get it passed.

  16. John Kennedy says

    Here is the information as far as the charity’s name and who to make check out to and what not. Very shortly we will be having a website either or…ill keep u up to date on that.

    Write checks to

    Sean’s Last Wish
    CPM Federal Credit Union
    P.O. Box 2297
    Greer SC 29652

    Email with any questions.

  17. ludwig says

    Let us stand tall against the bigots and do no business with them or their businesses or Churches. If you know a bigot expose their names so others can decide not to do business with them and pressure them to change to a more tolerant position. The Chief ones in Greenville and Spartanburg Counties are listed below.

    Let us also demand justice for this crime and not let folks the people below give the offender a slap on the wrist. He should not be allowed to post bond and if convicted should be kept in solitary lest he kill another gay person in prison. Let us insist that at least 6 gay people are on the Jury.

    We must make sure that this is considered a hate crime. Law Enforcement in South Carolina claims we do not have hate crimes here which is a cover up and has done so for over 40 years which is why when you check FBI records you will find none.

    Even some of the most horrible homophobic South Carolina hate crimes have not been considered hate crimes. They do exist not only against gay people but other groups such as the Islamic Center, Blacks, American Native peoples et al. However those who keep records of such crimes try to gloss the ugly facts over by claiming South Carolina has no hate crimes.

    Foxy Brown’s and Sean’s murders probably occured because the vitriolic hate speech of people like Franklin Graham, Bob Jones, Randy Kowalski at First Presybterian amd that Congregation and family,Gloria Haskins,Frank Page, Mike Fair, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robinson, the unethical reparative folks on Wade Hampton Blvd, who think gay people can be made straight(the Japanese say a Melon vine will never bear an Egg Plant), Fred Phelps, The Peeler Brothers(do not buy their dairy products please), John D. Hawkins, Gloria Haskins(in particular her), Harry Cato, Henry McMaster, James Dawson, Senator Graham, Bob Inglis, and Jim DeMint. The bigotry that all the foregoing espouse has hurt the image of South Carolina and confirms in the minds of others that we are bunch of backward intolerant redneck hillbillies bred of incest. I hold all the foremention people personally responsible for the deaths of Foxy Brown and Sean and feel that they should be personally answerable for these crimes as incitors. Sean’s murder has echoed around the world just as Matthew Shepards has. Sticks and stones not only break bones but their words kill also. I am asked about this situation by people in France, Britain,Russia, Guam, Japan, American Samoa, Mexico, South Africa among other places.

    Nearly all the hatred for gay people in this state has come from the Greenville and Spartanburg area in this State. Is it no wonder with Bob Jones among us and White Oak Baptist Church, not to mention Frank Page of Taylors. Some hatred has come from Charleston area but most folks there are more tolerant of us there than in the upstate.

    These of the same folks in South Carolina who are protesting the hate crimes bill in this state so that they can continue to
    do harm to us and others by abusing the first amendment. The First Amendment is not absolute. We can not yell FIRE in a crowded night club or theatre among other example.
    NO religion should be allowed to hide behind religious beliefs to justify gay bashing or inciting others to gay bash.

    Let also work to delete the Constitutional Anti-gay Amendment that went into effect this year and was put there by folks like Frank Page, Gloria Haskins, Mike Fair just to name a few.

  18. Fabrizio says

    Words can’t describe how I feel about this story. My heart goes out to his family and friends.

  19. christian p says

    This is just so tragic and sad.

    When will these kids(usually white suburban bullies) start punching their SBC Baptist preachers or their parents first – and not our gay youth…and how dare these asshole preacher/politicians oppose the Matthew Shepard Act.

    Nothing happens until we scream alot louder. Add Elke Parker to the list of amazing supportive mothers like Judy Shepard.

  20. cortes says

    This literally made me nauseous. Sick for him, his, mom, & sick for the coward who literally hit & run.