On May 16, 2007, Elke Kennedy got a call that's every mother's worst nightmare: her son was in critical condition at the hospital. Elke and her Greenville, South Carolina community soon came to realize that her openly gay son, Sean, was brutally and fatally beaten in what would be considered a hate crime in 31 states and the District of Columbia, but not in South Carolina. Now, less than two years after his tragic death, Elke was made aware that he son's killer, Stephen Andrew Moller, may be getting early parole this February. Sean's Last Wish, Elke is calling on the community for help:
The parole board is currently conducting an investigation to decide whether to allow him to have a parole hearing, so it is critical that they hear from you that Stephen Andrew Moller violently murdered Sean Kennedy and should serve the remainder of his sentence!glaadBLOG caught up with Elke as part of GLAAD's "Share Your Story" series. Elke has spent the time since her son's tragic death as a community advocate, working toward LGBT-inclusive hate crimes legislation. Elke has also contributed a chapter, “What I know now about losing a son” for Crisis, a book edited by Mitchell Gold. (Last year, GLAAD partnered with Gold to urge people to share their stories with friends and family during the holiday season.) Elke has done just that--shared her story with friends, family, and the nation. She's worked with GLAAD to help share her story with local and national media. As Elke said:
Each story I hear, each person I talk to assures me that I am doing what I need to be doing.Elke's story of dedicating her life to working for change for LGBT people, in her son's memory, is an inspiration. GLAAD invited Elke to attend the 19th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in both New York and Los Angeles as an honored guest. In his speech to attendees GLAAD President, Neil Giuliano, made special mention of Sean Kennedy’s story and of Elke Kennedy’s work supporting LGBT people. [kaltura-widget wid="emp01pvqo0" width="410" height="364" /] To take part in Elke's letter writing campaign, please click here.