After a Man Is Set Ablaze, a Community Comes Together

A man who happens to identify as a gay male is fighting for his life after being brutally beaten and set on fire.

His name is Stephen Patrick White, and he is 46 years old. He is a U.S. Army veteran who lost part of his leg while guarding a U.S. base as a private contractor in Iraq 10 years ago.

I know him as Steve, a kindhearted gentleman who walks with a slight limp due to the prosthetic leg he must wear.

He is the type of guy who would literally give you the shirt off his back. Steve is the kind of guy to help a person in need. When I was struggling with anxiety some years back, a friend suggested I talk to Steve about it. He was very patient and understanding. His kindness in helping me cope is something that is etched deep in his very being.

Steve likes to shoot pool, and he is good at it too. I recall having to steal him away from the game for a few moments in order to get one of his hugs. His embrace is warm and friendly. Just being around him makes me think I'm safe in his presence.

This hero nearly lost his life serving his country, and that should have been enough. Instead he sits in intensive care after having been set ablaze in a downtown Greensboro, North Carolina, hotel room. His condition is listed as critical.

The Advocate lays out the facts:

Garry Joseph Gupton, of Greensboro, N.C., is being held by police for assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury with intent to kill, and his bail has been set for $150,000....

Gupton reportedly met the victim, Stephen Patrick White, at local bar Chemistry Nightclub the evening of November 8. Hours later, the two are reported to have gone to a room at The Battleground Inn, where White was found naked, robbed, beaten, and intensely injured from fire when authorities responded to a fire alarm and a 911 call from the hotel regarding a screaming man at 4:30 a.m. Sunday.

The Advocate added:

At press time, none of the reporting on the attack suggested any intent to investigate the assault as a hate crime. In fact, as the National LGBTQ Task Force notes, North Carolina's hate crimes legislation does not protect victims attacked on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

While the motive is unclear, such a horrendously unnecessary crime has sent a shockwave through the Piedmont Triad's LGBT community.

A local LGBT watering hole, the Q Lounge, has partnered with another LGBT establishment, Club Chemistry, to raise funds and awareness for Steve.

Due to the vicious attack, Steve had to have a hand and part of his arm amputated.

Although many may not be able to attend these fundraising events, the Q Lounge has started a GoFundMe campaign that has already raised over $5,300 to help Steve and his family on what will be a long, expensive mental and physical road to recovery.

Godspeed, Steve.