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kathy gaither

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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 come out.
When did you find out that Billy Jack was gay?

I remember talking with Billy and he said something about he was walking down the street here and a guy started whistling at him. . . He was young.

How many years ago was this?

He was around 18, 19. I looked at him and I said, "Billy, you're gay." He said, "No, I'm not." I said, "Yeah, you are. Just deal with it. Work it out. Just don't push it on anybody."

How did you know he was gay?

Just the way he carried himself, the way he acted, and the conversations that we would have. But I never pushed him away. How could I? He knew I was there. . .

Recall for me some of the conversations that you had with him, before he realized he was gay.

He just really didn't know how to deal with it. I told him to go with his heart. I said, "Listen to Mom and Dad, but you do what's in your heart. Be true to yourself." He and I both were, eventually. I got engaged at one time. He got engaged. But we weren't true to our hearts.

So you both tried to make yourself not be gay?

Yeah. We wanted the family's respect. We'd do anything we could to make sure that they knew that we loved them, and we didn't want to do anything with disrespect.

How hard was it to get engaged, and to try to not be gay?

It was very hard living a lie. Billy tried several times. I tried once, and I said, "I can't do it." I knew for years. This is me. I love you all, but I've got to be me. Billy tried several times, because he loves Mom and Daddy, and he had that respect for them. I had respect for them too, but I just had to be me.

So what did he do? Go out with women?

We're no different, just because we love somebody of the same sex. . . We all love our family, always have, always will.  And Billy did, too,  very much. Yeah. He'd go out with women. I can't even remember the girl's name, but he was really trying. He was really happy. At one point in his life, he was very happy with a woman. I have no idea what happened--if he just decided, "It's really not me." . . . But he never had the relationship that he would like to have had, because he respects Mom and Dad. Always has, and always will.

So he put aside his happiness?

Yeah. He was happy, but as far as having a relationship, he would never have that. He put that on the back burner.

Why would having a settled relationship with one person have upset his mom and dad?

To know them is to love them. It took a long time for them to accept me. I think it's a little different because I'm the baby girl. . . My daddy really is a good man, but he wanted all his boys to be boys, and tough. In his own way, Billy was tough, but not to the macho excess. . .

Do you feel being gay made you different?

No, I'm comfortable with it. I always have been. Some in the family haven't been comfortable, but they're going to know me, like they knew Billy. And they miss out on a lot of things. We're good people. We're no different, just because we love somebody of the same sex. . . We all love our family, always have, always will. And Billy did, too, very much.

When you were growing up, did you go to church? Did you read the Bible?

Yes, ma'am.

Did you think the Bible said homosexuality was a sin?

No, ma'am.

What did you think?

Just love one another. Everybody's got their own ways of interpreting the Bible. And God knows, I can be wrong. I've been wrong before. But the way I see it, God loves everybody. Billy and I talked about that. I said, "You do what's good for you." I wouldn't tell him, "You got to be this." Just, "Do what feels right for you, Billy. Do what's in your heart."

You and Billy talked about this? Did you talk about the Bible?

Yes, ma'am.

What did he say? What did you say?

I can't quote the scripture, but there was a point in there about man with man. He said, "How do I deal with that?" I said, "You got a preacher. Talk with your preacher. That's the best I can tell you." It does say that. . . . I said, "Talk to the man upstairs. He'll give you the answers." So I guess He gave Billy the answers. That's the way I see it. But like I said, I can be wrong.

Does your father still believe that homosexuality is a sin, or is wrong?

I think so. But he's learned to accept more. He doesn't turn away. This has opened a lot of our eyes. And it's a heck of a way to open them. . . .

So Billy Jack was troubled by that scripture in the Bible?

Yes, ma'am, he was. I didn't know what to tell him, other than what I told him. I tried to help him as much as I could, without saying, "Do this. Forget the Bible." You don't do that. You have to talk to the man upstairs, read the Bible over and over again if you have to, talk with somebody, and handle it. Like I said, he dealt with it and he lived with it.

He prayed?

Yes, ma'am. Oh, Billy had his Bible right beside his bed.

He read his Bible every night.

I got my Bible. Just because you're gay don't mean that you don't believe in the man upstairs. You got to, or you wouldn't be here. . . . He's helped all of us through a lot. Daddy said, "Before you get to heaven, you're going to have to forgive Mullins and Butler, so you can see Billy." That one's hard. . . .

You said you wanted to meet with Mullins and Butler. Why?

I want to see them face to face, eye to eye. I want them to tell me the truth. I don't think the truth came out in the trial. Some of it really just doesn't make sense. The area where they supposedly went and jumped Billy--Billy Jack would never have taken his vehicle there. Billy Jack loved his little car. Billy Jack would never have driven his car to where it happened. It is so ironic for them to take Billy's life and then take his car. It's like, let's go ahead and get rid of everything he loved. . . . I just want to see them. I want them to look me eye to eye and tell me, because the truth didn't come out.

You seem very certain that the truth didn't come out. What makes you so certain?

Billy had been talking to me about two guys from Fayetteville that wanted to do things, and he didn't want to do it. And I said, "Well, don't do it. Stay away from them." He said, "Well, I gave them rides because they were drunk and they couldn't get home. And they won't leave me alone."

Did he ever say the names of those two?

No. Billy Jack--he never mentioned names to anybody . . .

So he said two guys from Fayetteville were bothering him. What did they want him to do?

They wanted to have a threesome. And Billy's never been that way. It's always one on one. He's told us that plenty of times--he'll go one on one but not with nobody else. Billy Jack was careful. But I know. My heart tells me. Billy wanted to tell me more, but he told me just enough. . . .

Who do you think these two guys were? . . .

The ones that killed him. And I say "they" because Butler was there. He didn't help Billy at all. . . .

What else makes you think it might have been Mullins and Butler?

Billy talked about a dirt road, how he had to take them home, and he didn't really like going down the dirt road because of his car. . . .

You went to the trial every day, right? Were you surprised about Mullins, and the witnesses who said that he was gay?

Yeah. . . . Because I thought he was a skinhead wannabe.

What does that mean?

He hated gay people--he said so himself. . . . Billy didn't push the issue. He pushed the issue. I really feel if I could ever talk to him face to face, I'll get it out of him, one way or the other. . . .

Didn't you used to give Billy advice? You said you were his support.

I'd just tell him, "Just be careful. Don't do something stupid. Watch where you're at, watch who you're with." And I said, "You can't really trust everybody. You want to, but you can't." But I guess he trusted the wrong ones this time. We all can't be right all the time.


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