Alabama sheriff’s deputy attacks LGBTQ community after gay teen dies by suicide

"I'm seriously offended there is such a thing as the movement," the sheriff's deputy wrote in response to reports of the teen's death.
April 23, 2019, 3:26pm
Pride flag at a parade
Getty Images

Want the best from VICE News in your inbox? Sign up here.

A sheriff’s deputy in Alabama has been placed on leave after he made anti-LGBTQ comments on social media — specifically, on a post about a teenage boy who was bullied until he killed himself, reported Monday.

Last weekend, a local Alabama news station shared Rocket City Pride’s Facebook post about Nigel Shelby, a 15-year-old who died by suicide after being bullied for being gay, according to Rocket City Pride. The station’s story specifically highlighted the fact that LGBTQ people face a higher risk of violence and that they often lack legal protections.

On Sunday, Madison County Deputy Jeff Graves denounced the entire LGBTQ community in a comment to that Facebook post.

“Liberty. Guns. Bible. Trump. BBQ. That’s my kind of LGBTQ movement,” Graves reportedly wrote on Sunday. (His comment has since been taken down, reported.) “I’m seriously offended there is such a thing such as the movement. Society cannot and should not accept this behavior.”


The Madison County Sheriff’s Office acted fast. By Monday, Graves was placed on administrative leave while the agency investigated the incident.

“The Sheriff’s Office holds all its employees to a high standard, and the public can be assured that a thorough and complete audit will be conducted and appropriate action will be taken,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

“Bullying of any group or person in or outside of schools is unacceptable, and I welcome any and all efforts to raise awareness to bullying and bring bullying to a stop,” Sheriff Kevin Turner added. “The Madison County Sheriff’s Office is proud of the community support and engagement we have received over the years, and we look forward to growing those community partnerships."

The local community has rallied in the wake of Shelby’s suicide — both Shelby’s high school principal and the superintendent of his school district have spoken publicly about his death, while drag queens at the Tennessee Valley Rocket City Pride’s Easter Drag Brunch condemned anti-LGBTQ bigotry and bullying.

Cover image: WZDX News.