Father kills 14-year-old son allegedly because he was gay

Father kills 14-year-old son allegedly because he was gay

We like to think we've moved on as a society, and that we're no longer prejudiced. Racism, sexism, homophobia - that's all in the past. Look at how much better things are now! We had a black president! More workplaces are embracing gender equality! Gay marriage is legal! But the truth is, no matter how much better things get, these issues are always going to be serious problems. Hatred is a cancer in the human race that just can't be cut out.

Maybe it's because we live in bubbles. If you're like me, and you live in a city, it seems like an great time to be gay. We have gay friends, go to Gay Pride Parades, attend gay weddings. We don't know anybody "anti-gay." It's easy to forget that the world's not a tolerant utopia. There are a lot of places where it's not safe to be gay at all, and by coming out, you may be ostracized, hated and even attacked.

But the most tragic story is when the hatred comes from your own family, who's supposed to love you unconditionally. In Henderson, Nevada, Wendell Melton, 53, got in an argument with his 14-year-old son, Giovanni Melton. We don't know what the argument was about, but we do know how it ended: Wendell, a former United Airlines pilot, shot and killed his son. Giovanni's foster mother, Sonja Jones, says it was because he was gay:

"He hated the fact that his son was gay. I'm sure that inside of his mind, he would rather have a dead son than a gay son."

Whoa! If true, that's horrible. It's something we imagine happening in some developing country, not in the second largest city in Nevada, 16 miles from Las Vegas.

Maybe we can't comprehend those dark thoughts because we don't live in that toxic environment. According to court documents, the family had a complicated past, with years of drama. Giovanni was abandoned as a child and there was a long, painful custody battle. Wendell illegally kept six guns in the house, and threatened his family with them. Sonja says he even beat her former foster son.

"Giovanni was abused physically and mentally and spiritually for many, many years."

At the time he was murdered, Giovanni wasn't living with his family. Police haven't disclosed where he was living, or whom he was living with. It's too bad he didn't stay where he was. Wendell's behavior was clearly unstable, and the household seemed like a ticking time bomb.

At Coronado High School, students and friends remembered Giovanni:

"We talked about our favorite things about him. One word to describe him; how he made us feel.  How we were feeling. I said that he was selfless.”  

In contrast, Wendell was selfish, and pulled the trigger just because he didn't approve of who his son was. Maybe in the future he'll feel remorse, and realize he'd rather have a gay son than a dead son. Or maybe not. If nothing else, let's remember stories like this, and acknowledge there's a whole world going on outside our bubble, as ugly as it may be.