Giovanni Melton did not have to die, but as reported by Attitude magazine, he was killed by his 53-year-old father, Wendell Melton because the elder Melton did not want to have a gay son. According to Giovanni’s former foster mother, Wendell was strongly against his son’s sexuality, and she is convinced that this is the reason why he shot and killed his own son.

“I’m sure that inside of his own mind, he would rather have a dead son than a gay son […] Giovanni was abused physically and mentally and spiritually for many years,” she explained.

Wendell Melton currently faces murder, child abuse, and prohibited possession of a firearm charge, in addition to the possibility of his son’s murder being declared a hate crime.

This heinous filicide only highlights a violence that has long been far too under-explored many Black families, which is not to say that this only happens in Black families. There is a preoccupation with ensuring that sons do not “turn out” to be gay, that is even more dangerous when society is not set up to protect Black children.

Rather than ensuring that sons who may be gay (or trans or gender non-conforming) are fully loved and embraced by their fathers, too many conversations affirm that this is the worst thing that a Black son can be in the eyes of their fathers. In this case, that belief ended in a tragic murder. In many other cases, the fathers may never kill their sons physically, but they do indeed kill their relationships with their sons.

If we are to create families that are nurturing and comforting, we must ensure that our children are not hunted by the people who are supposed to love them. We must ensure that fathers love sons enough to accept that loving men does not make them less deserving of life.