South Carolina Gay Man Dies in Potential Hate Crime Assault

Sean William Kennedy, 20, was leaving Brew’s Bar in Greenville County, South Carolina when a man leapt out of a car and punched him at least once, knocking him to the ground. Kennedy died almost 17 hours later, according to WYFF Greenville.

Sean_william_kennedyThe suspect got back into his car following the assault, which Kennedy’s friends believe was a hate crime. Kennedy was gay. Authorities are treating the case as a homicide, and exploring the possibility that he was attacked because of his sexuality.

WIS 10 Columbia says the bar was having a teen night.

Said Greenville County Sheriff’s Lt. Shea Smith: “We’ve interviewed several witnesses in the parking lot when this occurred. We’ve talked to other people at the bar, and we have received tips and investigators are following up on that. The investigation continues, and we hope to make an arrest.”


  1. Jake says

    What a shame! I hope they find the guy who did this so he can spend years in prison getting his ass raped! Bastard.

  2. bambambam says

    Let’s not forget, the Log Cabin Republikkkans oppose even counting the number of gay teens who are attacked or murdered.

    They oppose even COUNTING them. Republicans deny that any anti-gay attack is a hate crime. Log Cabin self-haters are funded to give political cover to the haters who deny racism, deny the Holocaust, deny homophobia.

  3. sam says

    Greenville, and all of upstate South Carolina, is ground zero for fundamentalist hatred of gays in the name of God. It takes guts to be out in a place like that. Of course, I don’t know what the killer’s motivation was, but if it wasn’t hate learned at church, I’ll be surprised.

  4. dan says

    oh come on you guys — some singular asshole kills a poor kid, and you blame an entire state. i grew up in sc, have family there, go there all the time, came out there in the ’80’s, and i can tell you that you are wrong. you were wrong about it then, you’re totally wrong about it now. blind dumb unexplored statements like that are just used as ammunition by the right to say “see, look how they hate us…” why not let the case unfold before you rush to a verdict and condemn a whole population. it makes little sense to complain about other’s ignorance while espousing an ignorant viewpoint.

  5. MJ says

    Isn’t it wiser in these cases to wait until more facts come out before judging (even judging the motive of the crime)? It’s early stages yet. (But going by the name of the victim, let’s hope the usual anti-Irish Towleroad bigots at least lay off it in this case).

  6. kimmer says

    dan — what part of SC did you grow up in? i’m tinking charleston, because that’s the only thing close to a tolerant city in that region. i gre up about 20 miles north of greenville. and wild horses wouldn;t get me back there now . . . it’s a cesspool of ignorance, bigotry and small-mindedness. get your head out of the sand, my firend, a kid just got killed there because he’s gay.

  7. Mark says

    I live about 3 miles from the bar. I never go anymore since I have come out. The bar can get a bit on the rough side and frankly, I tend to stay away from that kind of straight bar. My heart goes out to his family. So sad.

  8. dan says

    kimmer — i grew up in spartanburg. if you know the area then you know where that is. and i do go their regularly. i’m not going to diminish your experience, but mine is significantly different, and i would venture to say from your claim that you would never go there, it is based on more extensive and recent experience. there is ignorance and bigotry and hatred everywhere. gay kids are targets everywhere. it doesn’t contribute anything to any discussion to say, “oh it was because it was south carolina.” i would strongly encourage you, and all of you, to not diminish an entire population because of individual actions. that kind of thinking is just as dangerous and pointless and bigoted.

  9. sc native says

    I’m a SC native too, upstate – an hour west of Greenville. I love that place and honestly, people there have a bigger problem with me being an atheist than they ever did with me being gay.

    I’m with Dan – hatred is everywhere.

  10. FizziekruntNT says

    It is so horribly sad that this kid died, however, the article is simply saying he may have fallen and hit his head on the pavement after being punched. I’m not in ANY way suggesting this was okay…in fact, any physical altercation outside a designated ring is just wrong altogether. I grew up in a small North Texas town and had my own share of scraps with stupid people and once got punched in the mouth when I wasn’t even looking by a drunk moron because he didn’t like my friggin hair. It was the 80s for chrissakes! Maybe I’ve said this before, I don’t know. BUT, if the kid died 17 hours later, it sounds more to me like he should have been taken for an MRI after such a head injury. I wonder if the real case here isn’t neglect, and why he didn’t seek medical attention. Was it fear? Ignorance? Lack of medical insurance? Seventeen HOURS is a long time later, folks!

    I’m with Dan too. Judging an entire state by an incident is foolish. There were gay bashings in Hillcrest when I lived in San Diego! That’s like the gayest neighborhood in the country next to maybe the Castro or the various gayborhoods of New York.

  11. Marshall Lee says

    What’s most disturbing is that I live 45 minutes away, and this is the first I’ve heard of it. Had this been a blond hair “christian” girl, it would have been all over the news.

  12. Becks07 says

    Can someone check on Leland and Zeke? They havedn’t posted yet and I’m worried they may have met some sort of misadventure.

  13. dan says

    hey marshall — i did a google search on this and added a google news alert so i could stay up to date. i want to know when they catch the bastard, you know? anyway, just so you know, it seems to be a top story on most of the local tv stations, even as far away as atlanta. hope that makes you feel better about your locale.

  14. Greg says

    I grew up in Greenville and never had an issue. I came out at work (at the Greenville News), told my friends and spent many Saturday nights downtown with boyfriends and at the gay bar, the Castle. I’m not saying it’s San Francisco but this does happen everywhere, including Baltimore, where I live now.

  15. Matt says

    A man has been arrested. SC has no hate crime legislation, so evidence been turned over to the FBI to determine if they can charge him with a hate crime based on federal legislation.

    And Fizzie- he was found unconcious at the scene and taken to the hospital where he stayed.

  16. Matt says

    A man has been arrested. SC has no hate crime legislation, so evidence been turned over to the FBI to determine if they can charge him with a hate crime based on federal legislation.

    And Fizzie- he was found unconcious at the scene and taken to the hospital where he stayed.

  17. Damon says

    Simply sad.

    The rest of the media (not even gay oriented media) never broadcasts gay killings unless we unite in anger. Whatever happened to us after Shepperd?

  18. dan says

    hey matt – do you have any more news on the arrest…also, anyone in the area know if there will be a vigil for this poor guy? i have family members who would want to go, if anyone has word on it, let me know alright?

  19. Robbie says

    I grew up in Gilbert, SC (30-40 minutes west of Columbia) and it really wasn’t all that bad, honestly. Now I live in LA and I miss South Carolina a lot…more than I did when I first left, at least. It’s not a bad place to grow up, even if you are gay, and like other people have said, there are stupid people everywhere, including in LA.

  20. Zeke says

    Rest in Peace Sean. Condolences to family and friends. May the person responsible be brought to justice quickly.

    I’m here Becks. So sweet of you to be concerned but I do have a life and family outside of Towleroad. I’m not really sure why you worry so much about how often I post, since you have posted every bit as much as I have over the last couple of days. Still, it’s flattering to know that I’m always on your mind.

    Rather than sending me love notes here at Towleroad and bothering other people with your obsession with me and Leland, why don’t you just send us your personal opinions about us in private emails. I’m sure everyone here would be grateful.

  21. Michael Boh says

    Sean – I wish I had the chance to know you. You look like you would have been a lot of fun and a great friend. Even if you died from a horrible blow to the head, it shouldn’t have happened. I’m sure many hated people have died from even less force – hate is hate. My condolences to your friends and family if they see this. Michael

  22. Kboi says

    As usual, people who have no idea what South Carolina is REALLY like seize upon this opportunity to judge an entire state. Yes, it’s a conservative state, but gay people can definitely find their niche here, which tends to be in the larger urban areas (G’ville, Charleston, Columbia, Myrtle Beach–I’d say Columbia is the most gay friendly out of the bunch).

    My heart goes out to this guy’s family.

  23. Scott says

    The sad part about this is that when one was around Sean he just made everything around him better. He had so life in him. And what a smile. It just breaks my heart to think what he could have been and now we will never know. But please keep his family in your thoughts because are trying now to fight for hate crime bill to be passed in SC.

  24. bruce says

    we live in an over-“moralized” world where it is sometimes i think seen as some sick rite of passage to assualt gay men, it went on in days before martin luther king to black men too often, i wish i could say what it would take for it to stop…stiffer penalties, people seeing us gays as human beings and realizing how sick and weak such bullying cowards really are…

  25. renell says

    hi my name is renell and im doing a research paper in school for my english class. my topic is gay discrimination in south carolina i have to prove that it(gay diiscrimination) is a problem in south carolina. i also have to give
    solutions on how to help decrease the issue.but ne ways i would love to interview someone that has been discriminated against and that lives in south carolina. so if anyone could possibly help me i would very much appreciate in a bind and i need as much information proving that it is a problem.i need as much info as possible in a short amount of time. so if you dont mind me interveiwing you online privatley in email please email me at
    thanks so much it would be alot of help.