Crime | Gay Slurs | Maine

Vandalized Gay Memorial Rededicated in Maine

A memorial dedicated to an openly gay 23-year-old who drowned after being thrown off a bridge in Bangor, Maine by three teens in 1984 was vandalized earlier this month, spray-painted with the words "die fag." About 75 people showed up today for a rededication of the newly cleaned up Charlie Howard Memorial.

The Bangor Daily News reports on how the community reacted to the vandalism.

The memorial is the centerpiece of a small community flower garden alongside the bridge over Kenduskeag Stream featuring tulips, hollyhocks, magnolia bushes, lilacs, cosmos and crabapple trees. Macdonald, who along with friend Myer Taksel, has regularly weeded, maintained and cared for the garden the last couple years, said if the intent of the vandal was to intimidate or scare people, it was a failed attempt. “Actually, having something so offensive like that happen to the memorial made all these people regroup, and I think it’s rekindled our intention to encourage tolerance in our community,” she explained. “So in a way, it’s a good thing.”

Diversity Day is celebrated each year on July 7 in Bangor, marking the date of Howard's death. Watch a short memorial video, AFTER THE JUMP.

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  1. Charlie Howard was from Portsmouth, NH.[3] A young, fair-haired man Charlie was small boned and suffered from asthma.[3] He was often made fun of as a small child, and was bullied in high school due to his sexual orientation. He did not attend his graduation to spare his family from the taunts he often received. With his poor grades, he knew college was not for him.[3]

    As Howard and a male companion, Roy Ogden, were walking down the street, three teenagers, aged 15–17, harassed 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 friend escaped and pulled a fire alarm. Charlie Howard's body was found by rescue workers several hours later.

    He had a hard young life and a brutal death.

    Posted by: ratbastard | May 21, 2011 10:04:39 PM

  2. The worst kind of hate crimes.
    D-Day shows there is hope.

    Posted by: Matt26 | May 22, 2011 4:09:59 AM

  3. Wasnt there a young adult novel from the later 80s-early 90s based on this case.

    Posted by: marc | May 22, 2011 9:36:12 AM

  4. @Marc: There was a novel, "Ceremonies," by Dwight Cathcart based on Howard's murder, published in 2002. Not a young adult novel, so maybe it wasn't the only book inspired by the case.

    Posted by: Ernie | May 22, 2011 9:53:50 AM

  5. It should be noted that he was already dead, so the "die fag" comment was absurd. What would counciling the vandals reveal?

    Posted by: anon | May 22, 2011 10:47:43 AM

  6. I grew up near Bangor and I remember this happening. Until I left Maine, I remember that the local rednecks would always refer to the State Street Bridge as the Chuck-A-Homo Bridge.

    Posted by: Erich | May 22, 2011 11:44:24 AM

  7. The Third of June is coming up and there should be something going on then at the Chatahoochie (sp?) Bridge also. Unfortunately 3 June is also Robert E Lee's Birthday. Maybe someday the family of Billy Jo McAllister will allow DVDs to be produced of this banned gay classic.

    Posted by: Sam Molloy | May 22, 2011 12:28:55 PM

  8. The majority of redneck thugs vote in elections, which is why the marriage equality effort in Maine is a colossal waste of time and money.

    Posted by: wimsy | May 22, 2011 12:45:41 PM

  9. i date my fight for equality and freedom from fear from the death of this young man. it was just enough of a story in the northeast to merit coverage. it may even have had some passing national coverage. all i know is from that event forward, i have felt each unnecessary death, whether by lynching, bashing or suicide as a blow, both personally and to our nation and constitution. it is a shame to us as a people that we are not able to bring this to an end. whenever matthew sheppard is mentioned, i recall the sad life of charlie howard. i haven't forgotten, many haven't forgotten. too many do forget.

    Posted by: bandanajack | May 22, 2011 3:10:12 PM

  10. I concur, Bandanajack. There's cases here in Kentucky on a regular basis that get called robberies or mysteries that I suspect by the circumstances are motivated by intolerance: a kid gets thrown down a rock quarry and while he's hanging by his fingers they bash him with big rocks. Another high school kid in Eastern Kentucky deliberately swerves head on into a coal truck. Bodies are found in or near Lake Cumberland, close to Somerset, sometimes with their car burned or in the lake nearby...

    Posted by: Sam Molloy | May 22, 2011 8:50:01 PM

  11. This incident is also related in the early pages of Stephen King's novel IT.

    Posted by: Feral | May 23, 2011 12:40:27 PM

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