Crime | North Carolina

Hate Crime: Gay Couple's Home Burned Down


The house of a gay couple in Clayton, North Carolina has burned to the ground in an apparent arson crime. The couple have reportedly been victims of harassment from certain members of the community for more than a year.

WRAL reports:

Fire crews were called to the house on New Castle Ct., off Guy Road, around 1:30 a.m. Friday. The couple was out of town when the fire was set according to a neighbor and investigators. The couple was not at home when the fire started and are now staying in a motel. They asked WRAL not to reveal their identity out of fear for their safety.

Johnston County Sheriff, Steve Bizzell, confirmed to the station that the fire is being investigated as an arson. Bizzell said this fire does not appear to be related to a string of other suspicious fires in the area.

A neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of backlash against her, said there have been at least three separate incidents of anti-gay harassment at the couple's home. She told WRAL, a note with derogatory language was left in the mailbox, an anti-gay slur was written on the house with marker and the tires of a car parked in the garage were slashed, the neighbor said.

Sheriff Bizzell said that the his office was aware of two of those incidents, but would not say which two. He would not confirm whether they are related to the arson investigation. Bizzell said there are no suspects at this time. No other information was released.

Another neighbor in the subdivision said he feels sorry for the male couple because they lost everything. He and others in the neighborhood believe it was a hate crime.

Just awful. The couple, now homeless, is staying at a motel provided to them by the Red Cross.

Since the Red Cross is the organization that is currently aiding the couple, it might be best to contact the chapter in Raligh, NC if you wish to help them out. P: 919-231-1602, E:

Update: "Authorities are searching for a white Chevrolet S-10 crew-cab truck towing a small trailer, with a John Deere LA115 riding lawn mower and Troy-Built push mower. Investigators believe the mowers were stolen from the home."

Watch a local news report about the arson fire, AFTER THE JUMP.

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  1. What a sad way to start the day. I grew up in Clayton and left as soon as I graduated high school because I never felt that I could live in that environment and be safe as a gay man. While I have returned several times over the years to visit family, it seems my instinct was correct...

    Posted by: Kevin | Feb 6, 2011 9:49:50 AM

  2. Is there anywhere to send them support/money? Any other info? Thanks.

    Posted by: BirdRoughsIt | Feb 6, 2011 10:11:22 AM

  3. I was about to ask the same thing as birdroughsit.

    Is there someway people can help them?

    Posted by: matt | Feb 6, 2011 10:14:43 AM

  4. Awful. For the couple, there is a global community on your side. I hope you are able to build your life again and continue your life.

    Posted by: Matt26 | Feb 6, 2011 10:18:33 AM

  5. i wonder where the community religious organizations are and if they are helping to provide temporary food, shelter and support. certainly it wasn't the influence of religion that contributed to the hate and intolerance against this couple, right?

    Posted by: EO | Feb 6, 2011 10:23:51 AM

  6. That's my hometown as well. I only visit now when I am home from Chistmas, and while the town has grown a lot since the influx of people moving there for work in RTP, it's still very small town minded.

    I just hope the publicity doesn't provide any backlash, and that the sheriff's dept takes it seriously.

    @Kevin (above): What class were you at CHS? I was '88.

    Posted by: Robert in SF | Feb 6, 2011 10:36:37 AM

  7. Quick quiz: The arsonists who set this house on fire were a) Republican, b) conservative, c) listeners to talk radio, d) supporters of Sarah Palin, e) watchers of FOX News, f) Christian, g) members of the Tea Party, h) thinks Reagan the greatest president ever, i) Moves lips when reads

    Posted by: Jim | Feb 6, 2011 10:52:33 AM

  8. How long will it be before they're burning our houses with us inside? This is a Reign of Terror no different than that perpetrated by the Ku Klux Klan in the 1950s and 60s. The main difference now is, this Reign of Terror is fueled by so-called Christian preachers and pastors who regularly incite their followers to crimes of hatred.

    Posted by: RWG | Feb 6, 2011 10:55:16 AM

  9. This tells me, sadly, that a hate crime like this can happen anywhere. This was no "bad neighborhood", these are (at least) half million-dollar homes and fairly new if you look on Googlemaps. If this is what can happen in an expensive neighborhood, then we're not safe anywhere.

    I hope their insurance pays for the home and contents, hopefully they can rebuild their lives, get the house repaired and then move the hell away from NC. It's not a gay-friendly state.

    Where were these so-called "neighbors" when all this was happening? I'm tired of hetero lack of action when something is going on, followed by deep hetero sympathy once it's over. I've been the victim of this same lack of action during a crime and it's mentally debilitating.

    Posted by: johnny | Feb 6, 2011 11:11:40 AM

  10. That's a rather sweet house. I am sure it's insured.

    Their insurance is paying for their room. Or at least they should be.

    Will justice be served? Most assuredly not.

    Nothing like old time religion...

    Posted by: AllBeefPatty | Feb 6, 2011 11:17:00 AM

  11. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. For every gay home that gets burned down in qa hate crime, let a church burn.

    Posted by: Frank | Feb 6, 2011 11:30:04 AM

  12. Amerikkka, land of the free!

    Posted by: redball | Feb 6, 2011 11:44:48 AM

  13. I am from the area in Nash County, and I agree with the other people from the area that posted that I never felt safe being gay there. I moved away and I only visit on holidays, and they have very small minds there. They read the Bible and get crazy interpretations from it. Jesus didn't hate anyone, nor did he turn anyone away. I resent those who say this is based in religion, and really not based in stupidity and ignorance. These men did nothing to anyone and they were harassed by people who probably were jealous of them for being blessed regardless of them being gay. I feel for them, but I also feel for the entire community because this will keep people away. It will cause companies to think twice about building there and a lot of them will refuse to do so because of stuff like this. Johnston County has been notorious for hate, the KKK, and crooked law enforcement, so while I hope they actually arrest someone for this, I truly doubt they will ever arrest anyone for what they did to this family.

    Posted by: Capricorn7NC | Feb 6, 2011 11:51:08 AM

  14. Perhaps an organization that supports gay equality and has GALAs to raise money, and a president with an over bloated salary should come to their aid? I dunno - maybe the HRC?

    Posted by: w.t. door | Feb 6, 2011 12:05:08 PM

  15. Reading these accounts spook the Hell out of me. My partner and I have been on the receiving end of harassment for decades and everyone has turned their heads. I can still recall coming home from dinner at a friend's house years ago and as I approached the door of our home , I got a very strong whiff of Gasoline. I hesitated, I walked around our home to see if I could find an origin where the smell consetration got stronger. There wasn't any? Maybe I came home just in time?
    I know the terror they must have felt up to this point with evidence of them being the focus of Hate. You want it to go away but you seem to adapt to living in a hyper-vigilant mood to cover your ass. Our Local Police have made a joke of it and it appears that over the last 27 years , have given a wink and a nod.

    Recently, we have a few windows replaced in our home. The contractor, chosen by the window merchant, was hostile ( nothing new for contractors). However after they left, we discovered a trail of 25 red smudges on our rugs/flooring. We contacted the window seller asking for an explanation of how 25 smudges got on our rugs and he has been very defensive. Kind of has an attitude of how dare the queers address the issue. There is a longer story which gives credence to our belief in vandalism and we suspect this was retaliation for contacting the Police a few years ago concerning the actions of the contractor's cousin, a neighbor of ours. Who we believe was using Gun Fire to harass and intimidate us. We have batten down the hatches because we are braced for some retaliation for even addressing this current circumstances. We want accountability.

    We hope the Hateful Assholes who were responsible for the arson in the post get the book tossed at them. And I pray that these victims find some Peace of MInd.

    This is a blog I am working on . Not up to date but has some history.

    Posted by: Jerry | Feb 6, 2011 12:06:07 PM

  16. These stories always leave a lot of questions unanswered. Graffiti with a marker? The fire occurred while they were not at home? Obviously expensive property and nice neighborhood. Sorry to be cynical, but my first thought is insurance fraud masquerading as a 'Hate' crime.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Feb 6, 2011 12:07:25 PM

  17. Johnston County is a redneck, teabagger, conservative Christian backwater area that most of us here in Raleigh-Durham try to avoid like the plague. And here you see why.

    I feel sorry for this couple and I certainly hope they can pick up and continue with their lives. Our neighborhood here in Raleigh welcomes you with open arms.

    Posted by: RaleighRob | Feb 6, 2011 12:10:29 PM

  18. Let us get real with the situation for a minute. Yes, there are hate crimes everywhere. Austin, TX., NYC, San Fran, Minneapolis, Miami. But, let's be totally honest. Where do they happen the most often? Where can you be safe as an LGBT person and where can't you? Where have the last several hate crimes happened? Where have the majority of hate crimes year after year happened?

    Conservative and/or southern areas.

    This is a tragic situation, and I feel so much for the victims. Not even being around, although lucky they weren't in the house at the time, coming home to be in your residence, only having everything you own burned down. To hold THAT much hostility towards someone just for their sexuality is literally insane.

    Hopefully these men get the help they need during this rough time. I know I'm going to try to do my part to help. Hopefully people rally around these men and they don't lose faith in humanity.

    Posted by: Francis | Feb 6, 2011 12:23:24 PM

  19. There was a discussion on the thread of the lesbian in Alabama who was attacked, and the police doing nothing and in fact arresting the attacked victim. The discussion was, is it best to actually stay in these conservative backwater areas, and be strong and basically show yourself as just a regular person, live a regular life, and create change that way. And not retreat or be "weak"? Or is it better to just let the ignorance ride and move to a Seattle or Atlanta etc. and generally be able to be open with your sexuality without retribution. Incidents like this definitely raise those questions further.

    Posted by: Francis | Feb 6, 2011 12:30:31 PM

  20. Jim, you are probably right.

    Posted by: Max | Feb 6, 2011 12:31:37 PM

  21. a 200 dollar silent proximity alarm system and firearm and this would be a news story about a dead bigot.

    Posted by: mld | Feb 6, 2011 12:41:17 PM

  22. @MLD, The couple was out of town, so their having a firearm could hardly have helped protect the home.

    Posted by: redball | Feb 6, 2011 1:04:13 PM

  23. For all you gays who suck up to hetrosexuals, and relay hetrosexual sayings about us, and love to knock down your fellow gays be it fem gays or activist gays and say "my sexuality doesn't define me"...stories like this should make you realize, for many others your sexuality DOES define you. That for all the generalizations about gays you make (fed to you by O'rielly ilk) these stories prove there's just as many, if not FAR more hateful straight folks out there, yet you'd never speak ill of them. You're too busy kissing up to them, pretending we are all equal, all while belittling other gays to feel better about yourself.

    There's too many complacent, self hating gays out there who want to convince us all that hetros are good gays are militant...all while we have our houses burned down, our kids killing themselves, and are fired for being gay.

    It's time for the gay community to let the gays who sleep with the enemy to sleep with the enemy while the rest of us self respecting gays roll up our sleeves and DEMAND equality.

    Posted by: Realist | Feb 6, 2011 1:15:16 PM

  24. Ratbastard is the board troll (i.e MardDC, Tank) from what I gathered, and generally everyone ignores their divisive, anti gay stance. Just so it's known. I got the memo when they blamed a prominent anti gay hate crime recently on the victim with one of their fabricated conspiracy theories. Zealots can be found everywhere, but zealots are important for reminding us all how rational the rest of us are.

    Posted by: IonMusic | Feb 6, 2011 1:24:02 PM

  25. "The main difference now is, the Reign of Terror is fueled by Christian preachers and pastors..."

    That's not a difference, RWG; it's a similarity (though I would put the word "Christian" in quotation marks since I don't think they have any understanding of what Jesus taught.) Take a look at a list of denominations that supported slavery and later segregation and the often hateful accompanying messages, and then look at a list of those attacking gay people's rights. The two list are virtually identical.
    Those who supported equality for blacks then are virtually the same list as those who continue to support equality in the case of gay people.
    Even the justifications in both cases sound virtually identical, except for a change of the Bible story or verse cited to try to excuse their own prejudices.

    Posted by: Gregv | Feb 6, 2011 1:39:11 PM

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