Hate crime victims plan to leave Clarendon

Posted on 12 Oct 2012 at 11:30am

The gay couple who found a death threat — “Leave or die fags” — painted on their front porch in Clarendon, Texas, on Oct. 1 told Dallas Voice they now plan to move.

Joshua Harrison and Jeremy Jeffers said Thursday, Oct. 11, they’re planning on moving to Amarillo, which is 60 miles north of Clarendon, a city of 2,000 in Donley County.

But they hope to move to Houston or Dallas or even outside of Texas within a year because of the incident.

And they said although Amarillo isn’t a long-term solution because the area isn’t much more gay-friendly, at least it will take them out of harm’s way.

Jeffers said  he and Harrison “just don’t feel safe here anymore” and plan to move by the end of October or whenever they can get their finances in order. They said nothing has happened since the incident, but they don’t want to wait.

“Every day has been really stressful with no money and worrying if someone is going to physically attack us,” Jeffers said.

Jeffers was fired from his job as a manager at Pizza Hut a few days before the threat, but he said he blames local Pastor Chris Moore, who took out an ad in the Clarendon Enterprise against homosexuality.

The couple believes the ad led to the death threat as well.

Harrison cleans houses with a relative, but he said clients started canceling after word of the death threat spread.

But leaving Clarendon means leaving the city Jeffers grew up in. Harrison moved to Clarendon to be closer to family a year and a half ago and met Jeffers shortly after that.

The two then began dating but said they’ve never experienced any verbal attacks in public for being gay, though they say a few people in town have posted negative things on Facebook about homosexuality.

Both say moving is not optional now.

“We can’t find work,” Harrison said. “We really don’t have a choice.”

The local sheriff acknowledged the incident as a hate crime, but the couple worries that the person responsible won’t be found.

Harrison said he plans to work with groups and schools in the future to prevent anti-gay incidents.

“I’ve pretty much decided that I’m going to dedicate my free time to speaking out against this hate and making sure that it stops,” he said.

“This is ridiculous. We’re too evolved as a race to have hate like this still.”

— Anna Waugh

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 12, 2012.

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