He was convicted in the killing of Billy Jack Gaither. Sometimes described as
Steven Mullins' "sidekick," and always referred to as small and boyish, Charles
Monroe Butler was shooting pool with his dad at a bar when Steven Mullins
approached him to take a ride into the Alabama woods. Did Butler know that the
mission that night was to kill the other passenger, Billy Jack Gaither? He
says he didn't know. Mullins says he did.
The longtime pastor of St. Mark's United Methodist Church of Sacramento, Donald
Fado made national headlines in January of 1999 for organizing and presiding
over the holy union of a lesbian couple. The ceremony, witnessed by more than
a thousand clergy, lay leaders, and gays and lesbians who gathered at the
Sacramento Convention Center, drew protests from anti-gay activists. The
Methodist Church's governing body spoke out against Fado's action and ordered
an investigation which was underway when Fado spoke to FRONTLINE about gay
marriage and other religious questions affecting homosexuals.
The founder and leader of The Thomas Road Baptist Church, an
$80-million-a-year ministry that is one of the most influential in the nation,
Reverend Jerry Falwell has long spoken against "the homosexual lifestyle." In
October of 1999, however, Falwell hosted a meeting of 200 gays and lesbians and
200 members of his own congregation. The meeting came at the invitation of Mel
White, a writer who helped compose Falwell's autobiography who later revealed
to Falwell that he was gay. In this interview, Falwell discusses his
relationship with Mel White, his views on homosexuality and the Bible, and his
feelings about the recent rise in anti-gay violence.
A forensic psychologist, Karen Franklin's dual interests in psychology and the
law brought her to question the roots of anti-gay hate crimes. Her interviews
with perpetrators and with San Francisco Bay Area college students provide
badly needed empirical data on the nature and extent of negative reactions to
Of Billy Jack's four brothers, Ricky was the only one to go on camera with
FRONTLINE to talk about growing up as a man in the Gaither family. Ricky
paints a portrait of his younger brother's early denials of his sexuality, his
devotion to his parents, and his discretion about his romantic life. Ricky
also offers his own reading of the evidence against his brother's killers,
Mullins and Butler.
One of Billy Jack's two sisters, Kathy Gaither may have been closer to Billy
than anyone because of the bond they shared as gay members of the family.
Among other things, Kathy counseled Billy on how to weigh his personal sexual
feelings with his father's views on homosexuality from the Bible. Kathy is
adamant that the truth of why Mullins and Butler killed her brother has not yet
The owner of The Tavern, the most popular hangout in Sylacauga, Alabama, Marion
Hammond had been friends with Billy Jack Gaither for twenty years. He was the
first gay person she ever knew. Marion was familiar with Billy Jack's killer,
A Roman Catholic priest for twenty-eight years, and now a writer, counselor,
and educator, Daniel Helminiak waded through the sometimes dense thicket of
scholarship on the bible and homosexuality in order to order to write a book
for general readers, What the Bible Really Says About
Homosexuality. Helminiak gathers scholarly evidence to argue against
biblical literalism and all those who wield the scriptures to condemn
"I knew I was gay from age five," Derek Henkle says. In this portrait of the trials and hardships of growing up gay in America, Henkle describes how he came under constant assault -- verbal and physical -- once his classmates recognized his difference. Henkle tells how he fell through the cracks of several school districts that were not prepared to deal with an openly gay student; ultimately he dropped out of school. Today he is a gay activist, encouraging other gay teens that there is life after homophobia.
A sociology professor at the State University of New York, Stony Brook, Michael
Kimmel has written widely about ideals of manhood and masculinity in American
culture. Motivated in part by his own frustration with narrow definitions of
masculinity, Kimmel does more than raise awareness of homophobia; he makes a
strong case that the negative views of homosexuals hem all of us into gender
categories that limit our emotional worlds and diminish the possibilities in
all relationships, not just the lives of homosexuals.
A former Skinhead who worked hard at appearing tough and sinister, Steve Mullins worked construction jobs occasionally, but was often unemployed and frequently relied on others to get by. On February 19, 1999, he says, he decided that Billy Jack Gaither "didn't need to live any longer." That night, he slit Billy Jack's throat, beat him to death, and set him on fire. "I had to 'cause he was a faggot," says Mullins. At trial, however, a number of witnesses came forward to allege that Steve Mullins himself had been involved in homosexual acts, and may have had a relationship with Billy Jack.