I’ve been meaning to write about Jamey Rodemeyer’s suicide for some time now, but just haven’t had the words. My first reaction was anger and I think I just needed to calm down before being able to write about it coherently.
As many of you know i was featured in the book “It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying and Creating a Life Worth Living,” put out by the It Gets Better Project back in March. Since then I’ve been traveling to high schools and colleges in my spare time speaking about the tragic effects of anti-gay bullying and how creating “communities of inclusion,” especially in small towns, can save a child’s life.
When I first heard about Jamey’s death I started to feel as if I’d been fighting a loosing battle. If kids keep dying what’s the point right?
What’s most devastating about Jamey’s is he had done everything right. He’d taken the advice of he It Gets Better campaign. After coming out in Junior High he’d faced the bullying head on, he’d told his parents, he’d addressed it with the teachers and administrators at his school. He’d found friends hat had supported him, and like many of had to at an early age, he’d created his community of inclusion.
And after all of this, after getting through the terrors of middle school, he even created an It Gets Better video to give hope to other kids like himself. So what happened? We have thousands of videos on YouTube promising kids it’s going to get better, from the President on down. Why didn’t it get better for Jamey?
CNN’s Anderson Cooper was one of the many mainstream talking heads that covered the Jamey Rodemeyer tragedy. During a couple interviews (see video below) it was mentioned that the message from society is partly to blame. Personally, I think it’s fully to blame.
When “Christian leaders” and “moral politicians” are able to say hideous things like this, and then have their hate speech on rotation on the nightly news, how else are our youth supposed to respond? It has been found time and time again by child psychologists that bullying is a direct reaction from the environment in which the bullier is grown. Kids aren’t born with hate, they are taught it.
If our religious leaders and media-hungry politicians don’t start changing the message, I’m afraid the bullying will only intensify and our lgbt youth will never be safe. Telling them “it gets better” will never be enough. We have to start at the top, we must re-educate our educators. Or all hope may be lost.
I must admit, every time I hear of another kid who becomes the casualty of our intolerant society, I do want to give up. But now, more than ever, we need to spread the message of acceptance. Which is why I’ll continuing to speak at any school that will have me. I’ll keep telling my story until the hate in our schools becomes unacceptable. Until people who say things like this are shamed by their ignorance.