Anti-gay bullying vigil draws crowd

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – Hundreds met in downtown Charleston Wednesday night for a candlelight vigil to remember teens who have committed suicide because of anti-gay bullying.

Those in attendance wore purple to honor "Spirit Day."

The names of 10 teens who committed suicide in September because of anti-gay bullying were read aloud as others lit candles in memory of those who have taken their own lives.

Heather Davis read the names said she believes their deaths could have been prevented.

"Just one mean or hurtful comment can change how someone views their life," Davis said.

Melissa Moore is part of the organization "We are family," which provides safe places for gay teens to find help.

"At our last meeting, we had a counselor talk about suicide," Moore said. "Almost everyone in that room had attempted suicide due to physical, social isolation, name calling or cyber bullying."

Moore said she knows not everyone will embrace the gay community, but she hopes the bullying will stop.

"You can't deny that children should not be bullied no matter what," Moore said. "No matter what you're political beliefs are, all children need to be protected."

One gay couple said that Charleston is making strides in the right direction. Venessa Wilson and Hayleigh Osborn said that once people realize that gays have more in common with them than they think, the gap between gays and straights will begin to close.

"We're spiritual. We have a family, great careers, own a home," they said. We're the typical American family, only difference is we're two women."

Moore said the vigil also memorialized the 2008 signing of the Matthew Shepard Act which expanded upon the federal hate-crime laws.

Shepard was a gay man who was the victim of a brutal hate crime in 1998.

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