For most people, watching “IT: Chapter Two” in theaters this weekend will be a chance to enjoy some thrilling action and supernatural scares, as the story of the Loser’s Club and their immortal foe, Pennywise, comes to a close on screens worldwide.
For those who called Bangor home in the 1980s, however, there’s a scene early on in the film that will likely strike close to home. It’s the scene involving a gay character named Adrian Mellon, his attack by a group of local teenagers, and his subsequent death at the hands of Pennywise, who has returned to the sewers of Derry after a 27-year absence.
Adrian Mellon is based directly on real-life Bangor resident Charlie Howard, a young gay man who was murdered by three local teenagers July 7, 1984, who attacked him and threw him off the State Street Bridge into the Kenduskeag Stream canal.
Stephen King, then in his mid-30s and 10 years into his storied career, was raising three kids in Bangor with his wife, Tabitha, when the murder happened. Like much of the rest of the community, he was appalled. His outrage at the homophobia and cruelty so close to home came out in the book he had just started writing: “It,” his first book to be set entirely in Derry, his fictionalized version of Bangor.
“At the time I started writing ‘IT,’ the Howard murder had just happened. It was fresh in my mind, and fitted my idea of Derry as a place where terrible things happened,” King said. “And, maybe needless to say, I was outraged. It was a hate crime.”
Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.
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