Anthony Colin Made El Modena High School a Safer Place

He helped to create a haven for gay students such as himself. What happened next was heartbreaking

By the fall of 2011, Colin was experiencing several health issues. Depression lingered, and he had foot surgery to correct painful plantar fasciitis, which left him on crutches. For several years, he had been close friends with Shar Jackson, an actress famous for her role on the TV series Moesha, as well as being the mother of Kevin Federline's two children prior to his eventual short-lived marriage to Britney Spears.

The Weekly made several unsuccessful attempts to contact Jackson for this story via a spokesperson. What follows is information that appears in a 2011 report from the Riverside County Sheriff's Department:

Colin told Jackson that he used to self-mutilate, cutting his arms and legs. Over the course of several phone calls in November 2011 to Jackson, Colin expressed his feelings of despair. "What do I have to offer?" he wondered. "I'm sick. . . . I do drugs." Colin confided that he felt completely alone and told Jackson she was his only friend.

Colin in later years
Courtesy Colin Family
Colin in later years
Shadya Guzman
Riley Kern
Shadya Guzman

Around noon on Nov. 21, 2011, Jackson picked Colin up from his parents' house in Orange, and the two drove to LA for some shopping. After stopping at a Buffalo Wild Wings for drinks, they returned to Jackson's home in Corona in the evening, where Colin continued to drink into the early morning. At some point, Colin said he was stepping outside for a cigarette. A half-hour went by, and Colin didn't return.

A friend of Jackson's family was leaving the house and noticed Colin leaning against a tree nearby. The friend didn't stop but called Jackson to let her know where Colin was. Jackson drove to the spot and rolled down her window to talk to Colin, but he didn't respond. When she got out of her car, Jackson noticed that Colin was hanging from the tree, suspended by his neck from a 2.5-centimeter-wide red-leather bag strap.

Jackson drove back to her house and got a relative to call 911. They drove back to Anthony and cut him down. Paramedics arrived and attempted to resuscitate Colin, but there was no response. He was pronounced dead at 3:55 a.m.

Anthony Ray Colin—Lady Justice—was 27 years old.

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"It hurt a lot of people, so many people," says Guzman. "I wasn't too close with his family, but at his services, I met his mother, Jessie, and she just gave me the biggest, warmest hug and told me how much she loved me and how grateful she was to have me there. For her to be comforting me when she was the one who lost her son . . ."


"But I miss him dearly," Guzman continues. "I miss his smile and his laugh. And him telling me that I'm a crazy sexy bitch!"

"It was a heartbreaking shock," says Codell. "I had talked to him a few weeks before he died, just catching up as friends, finding out what he was up to. He was happy and doing well, and he had plans he was discussing with me. I think a thousand different things could have happened differently that day, and it would have been a different outcome.

"One of the things that makes his death so very sad, though, is that one of the purposes of the club which we argued was to help prevent suicide. And when the judge wrote in his decision allowing the club to meet, he wrote, 'This is a matter of life and death.' And he talked about how the suicide rate is so high for gay kids and how the purpose of the club is to provide support."

"One moment of bad judgment does not sum up my son," says Jessie. "There was so much more to the man."

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Fourteen years after the GSA controversy, things look better not only for gay students at El Modena, but also for gay students at OC high schools everywhere. There are GSA groups at nearly 50 campuses. El Modena now has an anti-bullying policy, and there's a big assembly each year on the topic.

Chapman can't see the current OUSD board ever attempting to shut down every student group—"They're far brighter than that, and more reasonable and moderate in their thinking." (In 2001, several OUSD board members—including Martin "Mister Fister" Jacobson—were recalled by voters.)

Carillo and Gremling, the current El Modena GSA student leaders, are acutely aware of the legacy Colin, Zetin, and all the club members who came and went in between have left them. They get that every time a student tells them thanks for being there for them, for existing, for trusting them enough to confide with them what they're going through at school or home.

"I've had people this year, especially freshmen, who tell us, 'Yeah, keep going!'" Gremling says. "There seems to be a lot of freshmen interested in us this year. The entire history of it is just so crazy and important. If we just gave it up, that would be a huge disappointment to the people who've come before. It would be sad if we just let it go."

"It's really cool that we're kind of famous," says Carillo. "Being a leader of the GSA is my greatest accomplishment."

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