BANGOR- It’s been nearly 35 years since Charlie Howard was murdered.
He was only 23 when he was murdered for being gay.
This pride week, community members came together to honor his memory.
“Our focus with pride, not just Bangor Pride, but pride in general is often around joy and celebration and acceptance and love,” said Aspen Ruhlin, one of the volunteers for Bangor Pride 2019. “All of those things are really important, but it’s also really important to remember the roots of why this is so important.”
On Monday, people from the LGBTQ+ community and allies gathered near where he was killed.
“We’re really gathered to think about the progress that still needs to be made in this community,” said Nik Sparlin, one of the co-chairs of Bangor Pride 2019, said. “There’s still a lot of violence around this country and a lot of hate crimes.”
People at the event gave short speeches about his legacy and talked about their hopes for the future.
“What happened to Charlie Howard, you know his murder, don’t just come out of nowhere,” Ruhlin said. “The approach or the cultural mindset around hate crimes is that it’s a one-off incident and not spawned by anything else, but in reality it’s the result of a culture that allows for that sort of attitude.”
That’s why event organizers hope that pride creates more visibility for the LGBTQ+ community.
“With more visibility comes tolerance first, then after tolerance comes acceptance,” Sparlin said. “So the more visible we are, the more stronger we are in our stance that we are here, we are queer, and we are not going away.”