Charles O. Howard was an openly gay man when it wasn't a fashionable or safe thing to be in 1984. Charles lived his life on his own terms and with his own values. Charles had a partner that he cared very much for. By all who knew him, he had countless friends and was loved by all. His enthusiasm for whom he was got him killed.
On July 7, 1984, Charles was walking along the State Street Bridge, in downtown, Bangor, Maine, when a car carrying three young men and their girlfriends stopped suddenly and began verbal taunts and threats to Charlie and his partner. Both boys began to run from what they knew would be the ensuing violence. Charles tripped and fell, the three young men then caught up to Charles and began to beat him and stomp him. Soon the young men picked Charlie up and threw him over the bridge into the Kenduskeag Stream, despite his protest that he couldn't swim.
Charlie Howard died that day. A precious life was taken away. It was taken away by three local youths, who were high on drugs, testosterone, bravado and booze, a lethal combination. One life was last, but three more were changed forever, and a shadow of hate was cast over the city of Bangor Maine. The boys who killed Charley never meant to take his life. It was a hateful show of testosterone gone badly. They were tried as juveniles and sentenced accordingly. Many thought the sentence was too lenient.
In July 2004 the Charles O. Howard Memorial Foundation was created with the goal of making sure that not one more life be lost to ignorance .Not one more life be forever changed by hatred. Thus the foundation took on the task of trying to educate and promote diversity. Since its inception the foundation has grown and evolved to become a well-established and respected force for diversity in Bangor Maine.
On July 7th 2004, it being the 20th anniversary of his death, the foundation dedicated a monument to Charles Howard. At that time it was announced that every year there would be a celebration of Charles's life, not his death. And during that celebration there would be a church service, the annual walk, the gathering at the Kenduskeag Stream on State Street Bridge. At that time the foundation will be announcing scholarships in Charles's name to students that are involved in diversity related fields.
The foundation has never forgotten its promise to staunchly challenge any form of violence or hatred. We will not sit by quietly any longer and allow violence towards gays, lesbians, or bisexuals. Nor will we sit quietly by and accept violence against women, racism, rape, incest, or child abuse. This website is dedicated to giving Maine and the nations victims of hate a place to voice their concerns. NO matter what their race, gender, sexual orientation or sexual preferences. It will offer a chance to meet and chat or email others who have endured the same hatred.
Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, post your thoughts on our message boards or join in one of the many chats that will soon be made available. This is not a site for victims as much as it is a site for survivors, and we are all survivors in one-way or another. This site is hopefully the first step in recovery and it will be evolving as yours and our needs grow. We will always off you a safe place to talk and know that you are not alone.
© 2003-2004 Charles O. Howard Foundation. All Rights Reserved
The following is on Charles O. Howards Memorial Plaque
Charles O. Howard
1.31.1961 - 07.07.1984
On this day we lost a beloved Son, a cherished Brother, a loving Friend
Charles Howard was thrown from this spot to his death because he chose to live life as an openly gay man. He lived a life others in society didn't understand or accept.
While walking along State St. three local male teenagers chose to harrass, intimidate and throw him from the bridge. Charlie, an asthmatic, drowned in the Kenduskeag Stream.
This tragedy lingers for many in the community.
It will never be forgotten as long as those who have the courage to live life and face social
obstacles on thier own terms.
Charlie is gone, but, his death will never be forgotten.
We received the following e-mail
I knew this guy. Later, when I was a cop, I had occasion to deal with one of the perpetrators. Life on the Inside had changed him and he was not the same person anymore. As far as the other two attackers, they seemed unchanged. Some of the locals took to calling the State St. bridge (where Charlie was killed) the "Chuck-a-Homo" bridge. Some people can't be reached.
I no longer live there but I remember Charlie.
Best of luck.
MaineVoices.org was designed for a safe place that victims may come and share their stories with others. We do not discriminate against age, race, sex, gender, religion or nationality. We are looking to provide a safe environment for all victims to start their recovery process or help those in need. Another piece of this project is to promote education to the public in general on embracing differences and to help make your neighborhood a safer and welcoming place to live.
MaineVoices.org was started by the Charles O. Howard Memorial Foundation in 2004 for the purpose of healing individuals involving diversity in society or within the homes of family. If you would like to support our cause or would like to meet us we encourage you to contact Gary Malone. email@example.com.
Twenty-five years later, The Bangor Daily News tried to locate Shawn Mabry, Jim Baines and Daniel Ness, now middle-aged men, for their views. The whereabouts of two of the men are unknown. Jim Baines lives and works in Bangor. Following his release from the detention center, he spoke regularly about tolerance to local students and even address the Maine State Legislature in "support of a bill to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation". In addition, he has co-authored the book Penitence with Ed Armstrong in 1994. That same year, Shawn Mabry expressed his regrets about his participation. He stated that he thinks about Charlie Howard every day.
At a short distance from Charlie's murder site, a memorial has been erected; engraved on the stone are the words: “May we, the citizens of Bangor, continue to change the world around us until hatred becomes peacemaking and ignorance becomes understanding.”
July 7, Charlie's death date, is now Diversity Day in Bangor.
In May 2011, vandals spray-painted graffiti and an anti-gay slur on Charlie Howard's memorial. Family and friends cleaned it up and rededicated it.