SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — A scene in the movie “IT: Chapter Two” is bringing back some painful memories for residents in Bangor, Maine.
Bangor is where “IT” author Stephen King lives and he based the fictional community of Derry, Maine, the setting for “IT”, on his home town. Many of the landmarks he writes about in the book can be seen as you drive through the downtown area. A standpipe, a place that could pass as the “Barrens” and a giant Paul Bunyan statue.
In one scene, a gay character named Adrian Mellon is attacked by teenagers before he is killed by “Pennywise” the clown.
That scene is based on real-life event that took place in Bangor on July 7, 1984.
A 23 year old openly gay Bangor resident named Charlie Howard, was attacked by three teenagers and after beating him up, they threw Howard off a bridge.
But there was no evil clown waiting in the water below. This was real life.
Howard couldn’t swim and while he pleaded with his attackers to let him go, they tossed him over the bridge and he drowned in a few feet of water while suffering an asthma attack. A friend who witnessed the incident alerted the authorities and Howard’s body was recovered a few of hours later. The youths who committed the crime were 15, 16 and 17 years old and sent to the Maine Youth Center and were all released within a couple of years.
Stephen King tells the Bangor Daily News that he began writing “IT” shortly after the incident and the killing was fresh on his mind . He says he was “outraged.”
“We live here. Which means we have to live with Charlie, and continue trying to make it right.”
The incident has been a dark point in the city’s history but in the years since the murder, Bangor has made great strides towards accepting the LGBTQ community.
Howard’s death is commemorated with “Tolerance Day” in the city every July 7th. There’s a granite marker near the murder scene that reads ““May we, the citizens of Bangor, continue to change the world around us until hatred becomes peacemaking and ignorance becomes understanding. Charlie Howard, an openly gay man, died here at the hands of hatred and ignorance on July 7, 1984.”
The street near the site is decorated with a rainbow crosswalk and each year, a Pride Parade crosses the very bridge Howard was thrown from. An event that seemed an impossibility in July of 1984.
“IT: Chapter Two” opens Friday, September 6th.