Waymon Hudson

Candlelight vigil for Sean Kennedy this Friday

Filed By Waymon Hudson | May 13, 2008 8:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Action Alerts, Living, Living, Living
Tags: Elke Kennedy, hate crimes against LGBT people, Sean Kennedy, Sean's Last Wish, South Carolina

It's been nearly one year since Sean Kennedy, only 20 years old, was killed in the streets of Greenville, South Carolina simply for being gay. This Friday, May 16th, Sean's Last Wish is holding a candlelight vigil to honor the memory of Sean in Greenville.

sean.jpgSean's Last Wish is a an organization that Elke Kennedy, Sean's mother, started that seeks to raise awareness of the lack of hate crimes legislation in South Carolina, as well address anti-LGBT violence and fight for fully-inclusive laws. I've had the honor of meeting Elke a few times, since we both serve on the board of the Gay American Heroes Foundation, and hear her speak about her son.

Every time I hear her speak about her son and her loss, I am moved to tears. Her strength is amazing. Her devotion to making sure Sean's memory and legacy lives on is truly awe-inspiring. Read her account of Sean's death and get info on how to support Sean's Last Wish after the jump...

In Elke's own words:

On May 16, 2007, at about 3:45 am, Sean was leaving a local bar in Greenville when a car pulled up beside him, a young man got out of the car, came around the car approached my son and called him fagot and then punched him so hard that it broke his face bones, he fell back and hit the asphalt. This resulted in his brain to be separated from his brain stem and ricochet in his head. Sean never had a chance. Sean's killer got back into the car and left my son dying there.

A little later he left a message on one of the girl's phone, who knew Sean saying: "You tell your fagot friend that when he wakes up he owes me $500 for my broken hand".

Sean knew at an early age that he was different. He did not let others know until he was about 17 years old and in high school. One day, after he had just told a few of his friends that he was gay, he came out of school to find the word "Fag" carved into the side of his truck. He was mad and it shock him up but I think it was then that he decided that he would not live in fear - he was going to live life and be there for others.

After that he told me that he was gay. He said: Mom if you don't want to love me anymore, I'll understand. I told him that there is nothing he could ever do to make me stop loving him.

I can't help but remember my son as a person who had a love for life and people and an irresistible smile to go with his personality. Sean loved everybody regardless of whom or what they believed in or stood for. He never judged but was always there to help people, either by listening or giving them whatever they needed (food, a place to stay, clothes, etc)

After his death I found out just how many people Sean had a positive impact on. There were over 700 people at his memorial service.

He was a leader, kind and non-judging, caring and compassionate and loved by so many. He was happy of who he was and stood up for what he believed in. He had reached all the dreams and hopes this mother could ask for and he accomplished this in only 20 years.

- Elke Kennedy (Sean's Mother)

Elke has devoted her life to helping spread the word about hate crimes. If you can make it to the vigil, I encourage you to go. If not, stop by their website and make a donation or send a note of support to Sean's family.

The vigil will be:
May 16, 2008
Main Street Plaza (Entrance to Falls Park)
Main Street & Camperdown Way
Downtown Greenville, SC

I'll leave you with a video tribute created by Sean's family-

iPhone users: Click to watch

"So who knows what's around the corner or down the street. I'm just gonna live life and find out."
-Sean William Kennedy

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Ever since some self-hating scribe wrote in Leviticus that homosexuality is an abomination punishable by death gays and lesbians have been getting murdered by the straight supremacists who would impose their Mein Kampf values on us.

How many within the LGBTQ community over the last few thousand years been beaten and murdered? When is enough enough?

I wish that we could build a museum -- either an online virtual museum or a physical building -- dedicated to the memory of all the LGBTQ victims of such hate crimes over the millenia; however, even the best historians never will be able to assemble the identity of all the victims of the LGBTQ holocaust that remains in place with the support of the state and the blessing of religion throughout much of the world.


The Gay American Heroes Foundation (www.gayamericanheroes.com) is working on building a traveling memorial to LGBT hate crimes victims. If you or any of our readers know of cases that need to be added to the memorial, I encourage you to contect them. Liek you said, it is impossible to find all of them, but we need to include the memory of all that we can.

Thanks for bringing The Gay American Heroes Foundation to my attention; I previously was unaware of the group, and what an amazing project with which it is involved.

I do believe in God, and I believe that in the end everything -- including all the suffering that we experience -- is explained and revealed.

And I believe that all those who preached the hate and sanctified the discrimination that is the fuel for crimes against the LGBTQ community are in for a rude awakening at the reckoning, and when the hateful finally see God they will understand that all their fag bashing was against none other than Jesus Christ.

I'll never forget the image in my mind of Matthew Shepherd tied crucifixion style to the fence post in Wyoming, and in the cold and alone as he was dying with tears parting the blood on his face I can't help but wonder if he thought he had been forsaken and whether he was able to forgive his killers for they knew not what they had done.

I always am reminded of Knockin' On Heaven's Door each time I hear about the murder of someone in our LGBTQ community.

GAHF has a pretty active Facebook page too, Gay Bars. You should check it out if you're on FB.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | May 13, 2008 8:56 PM

The NCAVP data for the 2000 and 2004 elections show an upturn in violence against GLBT folks. The same thing happened during local controversies over same sex marriage, particularly in San Francisco when Newsome ordered city hall to perform them. These events are always accompanied by a barrage of hate speech by Republicans and christians. And invariably the Democrats scramble to avoid being identified as 'gay lovers'. When they trash bills like ENDA and the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes bills they do their bit to embolden the thugs.

It seems to me that there's already been an increase in violence this year. We need the hate crimes bill and an anti-hate speech bill more than ever. The efforts to memorialize our dead with the Gay American Heroes Foundation is a wonderful idea, but really there are millions of heroic GLBT folks everywhere. It often takes real heroism just to keep on going in some of the redneck parts of the country and even in the more 'civilized' areas.

http://www.ncavp.org National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs

tobyhannabill | May 14, 2008 3:32 AM

I really hate it when you make me cry. Thank you for making me cry. It reminds me I am human. I wonder how the world would be if everyone had the ability to cry.