‘Bullied’ Salem teen uses chalk to counteract slurs

Marion County

The Nelson family's house and vehicle vandalized July 27

SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — The Nelson family of Salem woke up Saturday morning to homophobic slurs sprayed on their house and vehicle in what Michelle Nelson believes was targeted at her 14-year-old son.

“We came out and we saw the back of my car and we were, like, flabbergasted,” Michelle told KOIN 6 News. “Then we turned around and saw the side of the house.”

Not only were there slurs sprayed onto the house, she said a rock was thrown and broke a window.

The Nelson family of Salem found homophobic slurs on their house and car, July 27, 2019 (Courtesy: Michelle Nelson)

Though they’re still processing what happened, they’re also trying to respond in a positive way. Jake Nelson is sharing his story because he wants others to know they’re not alone and that you shouldn’t be afraid to be who you are.

The teen, who identifies as bisexual, used chalk to make a big rainbow and flags in his driveway supporting the LGBTQ community.

His drawing “just helps me calm down a little bit,” he said, adding he hopes it speaks to others. “People should stand up for what they do in life and their sexuality in life.”

His mom said “he’s been bullied for the last 2 years at school” for identifying as bisexual. “We suspect it’s someone from school.”

The incident broke her heart, she said.

“It just hurts so bad. I was scared of how he was going to wake up and react because, you know, he doesn’t deserve this.”

Either way, Michelle said her son is approaching the crime with courage and strength.

Michelle Nelson’s home was spray painted with homophobic slurs she believes were targeted at her teenage son, July 30, 2019 (KOIN)

“I’m very proud of him. I’m overwhelmed with joy that he’s so strong to be able to say, ‘I’m bisexual, I’m willing to say, you know what, I want to come out stronger out of this,” she told KOIN 6 News. “His artwork as has shown that.”

Though the chalk drawings may fade away, the message from Jake’s drawings won’t.

“We will stand up with the community and say, you know, we will support the LGBTQ community,” Michelle said. “The community has stood by us.”

A local business removed the graffiti from their car for free and others have sent encouraging messages online.

They filed a police report. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Salem Police Department.

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