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Monday, January 24, 2011

Disabled Georgia Gay Man Gets Hate Note, Then Bedroom Torched in Hate Crime

By Steve Weinstein -

Carroll County is a semi-rural county that is near enough to Atlanta for parts of it to be included in some aggregations of the huge city’s extended area. But the northwestern county still retains much of the character of the rural South -- including prejudice against anyone who’s different.

Someone apparently believed that that included Chris Staples. The Carroll County resident received a message delivered in the most brutish way possible: a note attached to a rock thrown the window of his home, a converted pool house on the grounds of his family’s estate. The note was, he told WSBTV, covered with crude anti-gay remarks -- "some of the meanest, hateful words that could come out of a person’s mouth," was how his mother described it.

Then, later on that Sunday, Jan. 23, the "Lord’s Day" in that part of the world, Staples awoke to flames engulfing his bedroom. WSBTV reports that officials are considering it arson.

"We are just lost," Staples’ mother, Wanda Morris, told a reporters. When she heard a commotion, she ran into the yard and found her son. She thought he was dead.

Staples’ mother said he had been out of the closet for 20 years, is so sick he’s unable to leave the house and has no enemies that she knows of. One news report lists his age as 40; another, 43.

Even the local police were sickened by the act. "This is the first time I’ve dealt with anything of this nature in 16 years," said Capt. Shane Taylor of the county sheriff’s office. "I can’t believe anyone would have such hatred in their heart as to do somebody like that, especially when they don’t even know him. They don’t know him," she said.

"We have lived here for 31 years and have never had any trouble," Morris said. "I mean, everyone knows him and he doesn’t bother a soul. I just don’t understand. He’s a good person and everyone who knows him calls him ’Brother.’

"He’s disabled and has been very sick. He hardly every leaves the house so I just don’t understand this kind of hate towards someone they obviously don’t even know. But the note read like someone just found out that Chris was gay and was the most hateful, sickening thing I have ever read. If the words weren’t enough, this? He could have been killed."

EDGE Editor-in-Chief Steve Weinstein has been a regular correspondent for the International Herald Tribune, the Advocate, the Village Voice and Out. He has been covering the AIDS crisis since the early ’80s, when he began his career. He is the author of "The Q Guide to Fire Island" (Alyson, 2007).

1 comment:

  1. I can only apologise on behalf of my fellow christians. I am so sorry this hateful crime happened to your son.