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Remembering Charlie Howard 

Twenty-five years ago, Charlie Howard was attacked and killed in Bangor because he was gay.His death shocked the community and spurred lots of folks to work to encourage respect for all people.”People like Charlie Howard paved the way for others now,” says Mark Doty, senior pastor at Hammond Street Congregational Church. Howard had been bullied his whole life for being gay. But, he told people, he didn’t want to hide who he was.”It cost him his life,” says William Carlin. Doty and Carlin are members of the Charlie Howard Memorial Committee.23-year-old Howard was brutally beaten and thrown off the State Street bridge by three teens in 1984.”It did bring a lot of attention to our community. People have resolved to really do something positive and to affect change in a good way,” Doty says.As folks look back over the past 25 years, they say some things have changed for the gay community.”There has been an incredible spirit of tolerance and understanding. When I came here in 2001, I was the only out, gay pastor in Bangor. And the folks in the church didn’t know how it was going to go,” Doty says.Much like Charlie Howard, Doty told folks he wouldn’t hide who he was.”I was voted in as pastor. And so that was, I think, a kind of watershed moment for this church and the community,” he says.There have also been milestones for the gay community in Maine like the passage of the same-sex marriage act.Though many people didn’t know Charlie Howard personally, they say he’s an inspiration.”We want to discover who people really are – and that we’re all the same in so many ways,” Doty says.Events will be held over the next several days in Bangor in honor of the 25th anniversary of Charlie Howard’s death. –Tuesday, 6:30 p.m., Service at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 120 Park St. Dedication of the the Charlie Howard Memorial at the State Street bridge to follow.–Wednesday, 7 p.m., Concert featuring Maine Gay Men’s Chorus, Women with Wings and Voices for Peace, Unitarian Universalist Church, 120 Park St.–Thursday, 5:30-6:45 p.m., Art exhibit and reception, “Charlie Howard, 25 Years Later, How Far Has Maine Come?” at the Bangor Public Library.–Friday, 6 p.m., Pizza supper and film, “Inlaws and Outlaws,” at the Hammond Street Congregational Church, $5 for pizza.–Saturday, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Workshops on various topics, Hammond Street Congregational Church. -9-10:30 a.m., “Marriage Equality for Maine in 2009.” -11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., “Reading the Bible Through a Queer Lens.” -11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., “Ugly Ducklings.”–Sunday, 9 a.m., 25th Annual Charlie Howard Memorial Service, Unitarian Universalist Church, 120 Park St., followed by a walk to the State Street bridge and the casting of flowers into the stream.