Jamey Rodemeyer, fourteen years old, from Williamsville, New York, kills himself after attending high school for only three weeks.
The reason? Jamey was openly bi-sexual, and the bullying, which he had been dealing with for much of his adolescence, had sadly overwhelmed him.
Jamey wrote on his blog on September 7th, “No one in my school cares about preventing suicide, while you’re the ones calling me [gay slur] and tearing me down.” The next day, he wrote the following, “I always say how bullied I am, but no one listens...What do I have to do so people will listen to me?”
The response to his pleas and cries for help were taunting and cruel. Some posts encouraged Jamey to commit suicide, saying that Jamey “MUST DIE” because he of his sexuality, in addition to his appearance. Another anonymous post states that no one would care if Jamey would kill himself, in fact, it would make everyone happier.
Less than two weeks after these posts, Jamey is dead.
This young man had supportive parents, a social worker, and a therapist, and yet despite all of that, the cruelty of his peers overcame a young man who was, at one time, optimistic about his future.
He even made a video for the “It Gets Better” campaign in May, which in itself was a response to the shocking amount of gay suicides that occurred last year.
In the video, Jamey talks about the support he received when he came out. He also talked about how he felt like he couldn’t escape from the harassment, and how people would tell him that he was going to hell for being bi-sexual.
Now, the people who said these things to Jamey are revolting and should be, to a certain degree, accountable for what the hurt they inflicted on this child. I understand that everyone has a right to free speech, and I would never contest that, but telling someone to go kill themselves is on the same level as threatening someone’s life. Either way, you are wishing and at some point, facilitating someone’s death. This should be punishable on some degree.
However, what is equally upsetting, are those who take a passive, somewhat taciturn approach to stories like these. They are the people who do not cheer for these suicides, but instead refuse to empathize, or even sympathize with Jamey and young people in his position. In my opinion, this kind of mentality may not be the cause of homophobia and discrimination, but it certainly helps perpetuate the cycle.
This kind of thinking says that kids these days have gotten soft. That everyone has to deal with bullying. If they don’t want to be bullied, they shouldn’t have been so open about their sexuality. They think that since Jamey and kids like him are open about their sexuality, and talk about the struggles of being gay, are asking for whatever comes their way.
It’s true, everyone has to deal with bullying at some time in their life.
But I think there is a distinct difference between being shoved into your locker or being called a name and being told that everyone would be much happier if you killed yourself. Oh, and that after you kill yourself you’ll be going to hell.
So how, if we are still using this lackadaisical mentality, are you supposed to counteract all of this cruelty and harassment? Standing up for yourself certainly isn’t an option, since it gets you nowhere in our school system and seemingly causes those who are attacking you to become even more aggressive.
What are these kids supposed to do? Stop talking in a “gay” way or acting in a “gay” way, and they’ll be fine? Apparently, just act straight. Boys, be manly. And girls, save your lesbian escapades for when it really matters, i.e., the amusement of your boyfriend and his basketball teammates.
It shouldn’t be hard, since after all, a lot of people think that being gay is a lifestyle choice. It’s true, since no studies confirm it.
Oh, and definitely, definitely, don’t come out of the closet, because if there’s anything that makes homophobic people upset, it’s the fact that gay people actually exist.
And the last thing you want to do is upset the people who are making your life a living hell, so just, you know, don’t exist.
Sadly, a lot of people think that by telling the gay kids to be quiet and not rattle any cages, that the problems are just going to go away. But it is easy if you follow this philosophy to the very end, where it can be just as harmful as open discrimination.
You may not be throwing the stones, yourself, but you certainly may be supplying them to those who are.
There is no middle ground when it comes to prejudice and cruelty. You can’t be sort of a bigot. You are either a bigot, or you aren’t.
We cannot undo this poor fourteen year old’s choice to kill himself. We can’t simply react to these kinds of events. We have to start becoming proactive. We need to start speaking up and standing up for those who can’t defend themselves. We have to start demanding that our politicians publicly condemn homophobia regardless of whether it makes them look “bad” or not.
Homophobia isn’t a political issue, or a gay issue, it’s a human issue.
We need to stop using the stones for throwing and instead start building bridges.
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