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Gay students warned to ‘act straight' after vicious attack on gay teen

Rock Hill, South Carolina — Winthrop University officials are warning gay students to "act straight" after the brutal beating of a gay teenager in Rock Hill, South Carolina. 

Joshua Esskew ::
Joshua Esskew 
credit ::
"I've got to let my students know [about the attack], so when they're out and about in Rock Hill they act straight," Kelly James a professor at the university told WBTV

The disturbing message comes after 19-year old Joshua Esskew was beaten by a mob of at least eight African American young men at a convenience store, that was captured on video. Esskew believes the attack happened because he is gay. 

"The way I might have been dressed, you know," Esskew told WBTV. "'Me being me' is what set it off."

The FBI confirmed on Monday that it is investigating the attack that happened on April 9.

South Carolina has no hate crime laws, but the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, enacted in 2009, gives federal authorities power to investigate allegations of crimes against gays that could potentially be civil rights violations.

According to The Herald, the attack and video have sparked outrage after making national news. Gay rights groups want the beating to be treated as a hate crime. They are also calling on South Carolina lawmakers to enact hate crime legislation. 

The Gay American Heroes Foundation, a gay rights advocacy group, says gays are the victims of attacks every six hours in America. 

This is just not right. I hope the young man is okay and is able to continue to be himself no matter what the homophobic people of his town do or say. Remember to stay strong and always do you first
Posted by Gregory on Wed, 4/20/2011 10:10 AM
If someone was beating up immigrants, would he advise them to speak English with an American accent?
Posted by Jason Jenkins on Wed, 4/20/2011 5:00 PM
It's easy to be angry with the university officials for asking people to act straight, but it seems with no real hate crime laws, what are they supposed to do? I'm not saying it's a happy scenario but it really seems to be the only option at this point. My anger goes to the disgusting homophobes who beat this guy up. They're the lowest form of scum.
Posted by Andrew on Wed, 4/20/2011 6:02 PM
Where's the follow-up to this story? Her comments were taken out of context.

Read Editor's Note here:

Watch Raw Interview here:
Posted by BethHoldenSoto on Wed, 4/20/2011 8:54 PM
After listening to the whole interview with Dr. Kelly her remarks were very much taken out of context. This teacher is an advocate to Gays everywhere. We need more people in the world like her.
Posted by Gregory on Fri, 4/22/2011 11:36 AM
I don't know what that professor means by "act straight," and I have no doubt she meant well, but she should know that what she is suggesting is just not possible for all of us. The truth of the matter is that some of us are more *obvious* than others. I happen to be among the *obvious;* my advice to Esskew would be to get the hell out of there as soon as he can.
Posted by Scott363 on Sat, 4/23/2011 2:05 PM
I agree with University officials. In a state where the law isn't on our side we either have to come out in numbers and demand change or learn to hide any indication we might be gay in public or unsafe zones until things are changed.
Posted by David C. on Sat, 4/23/2011 2:33 PM
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