After Kyle Chester and Corey Hurley say they received an intimidating note on their door in the middle of the night last week, they say police didn’t show up when they called 911.
Other people — hundreds of them — meanwhile, responded with support.
Chester and Hurley, who live in Clarksburg, say they received a knock and a note on their door on Locust Avenue at about 3 a.m. Thursday that read “TRUMP is our president now! Get out of our neighborhood now F-----S!”
After they posted about it on Facebook, and some media outlets from out of state picked up on the story, they say they received thousands of messages and hundreds of friend requests. They also received support from people they already knew. Chester said his aunt drove from Lexington, Kentucky, on Saturday to be there for him. Neighbors have stopped in to check on them, as well.
But Chester, who moved here from Lexington about five years ago, and Corey Hurley, a lifelong West Virginian, still feel less safe in their own home.
“I appreciated the support,” Chester said. “At the same time, it was chaotic and stressful.”
Chester said police drove through their neighborhood that night after they called, but no one stopped.
“I didn’t think you had to explicitly say we want a police officer to come to my house right now,” he said.
He said police contacted the couple the next day, after the case attracted attention, and asked them to come in to file a report.
Chief Robbie Hilliard of the Clarksburg Police Department said that the couple did not want a report filed, and had only requested extra patrols.
He said nothing indicated to him that the incident could have been a hoax, noted several times that it could have been “kids,” and said that they have no suspects.
In an interview with Gay Star News last week, Chester said homophobia was “terrible” in West Virginia.
He walked that back a bit Monday, saying that West Virginia is a mostly accepting place.
“I think I was just angry at the time of that interview,” he said.
But he said homophobia is still something he and Hurley regularly experience — whether it’s a slur as they walk down the street, or someone muttering under their breath.
“We don’t have big, pointy ears and a tail like some people seem to think,” he said. “We’re just normal people. We wake up and go to work every day just like everyone else.”
They worry Donald Trump’s presidential victory has emboldened people who hold those views, although they say it’s not that Trump created those people. As of the end of last week, the Southern Poverty Law Center had received reports of more than 200 acts of hateful intimidation and harassment across the nation.
Chester noted that Trump has given reporters varying views on same-sex marriage. Trump recently said that same-sex marriage was a “settled” issue, although during his campaign he said he would consider appointing Supreme Court justices who would overturn Obergefell v. Hodges.
“They just suddenly feel this sense of power and supremacy,” Chester said. “They feel like they can target other people.”
The couple say they went through shock, then fear, then anger.
“Then we decided we had to do something about it,” Chester said.
Chester said Patrick Folio, of the LGBT rights group Fairness West Virginia, reached out to them about collaborating on a public education effort after their post went viral.
Education, Chester said, is the best way to combat homophobic sentiment, and promote tolerance toward all.
“We had to find something positive about this,” he said.