Imagine yourself having a pleasant evening with family. A time filled with gales of laughter, ribbing jokes, and general merriment. Family represents a certain haven; an intangible oasis that exists whenever you are with them. With family, you are safe.
Now, imagine that you happen to be a young gay man, in the Roanoke area of southwest Virginia, a tight-knit Bible-belt area populated with homegrown locals and students from numerous colleges.
One evening last March, Jordan Addison, a student at nearby Radford University, left his relatives’ home to discover homophobic slurs crudely scratched into his car. During the weeks that followed, Addison’s car was vandalized further. The passenger side tires were slashed, and the word “die” was encrypted in the car’s paint. The vehicle’s windshield was shattered.
The clinical counseling and sociology student discovered that the damage came at a high financial expense. Unable to have it repaired, Addison was resigned to leave the damage as is. In a stroke of luck, Radford University employee told Richard Henegar, Jr. of Quality Auto Paint & Body in Roanoke of the vandalism. Henegar and his team, as well as numerous others, rose the occasion and not only gave the car a new coat of paint, but outfitted it with tinted windows, new tires, reupholstered door panels, a new suspension system, stereo and security systems, and powder coated rims.
Every single aspect of the $10,000 improvement was donated, thanks to the team at Quality Auto Paint & Body, as well as other businesses that include Parts Unlimited, Advance Auto Parts, Moon’s Auto Body, Rice Toyota, Val’s Automotive, The Rod Shop, B&C Exterminating, Twists & Turns, AJ’s Landscaping and Sunnybrook Auto Spa.
After the incidents, Addison and Henegar were flooded with letters of support from all over. Actress Jen Lilley, a Roanoke County native, tweeted “In my hometown of ROANOKE, VA, this is just one way we respond to injustice. GO ROANOKE!” Among Addison and Henegar’s supporters included TV figure Ellen DeGeneres. The talk show host invited both Addison and Henegar to appear on her show, which aired September 10, 2012.
Jordan Addison is one of millions of young people victimized for their sexuality. For struggling teens and adults, visit www.itgetsbetter.org and learn more today.