It didn’t get better for Jamey

Jamey Rodemeyer made one of those ‘It Gets Better’ video, but it didn’t get better for him.  Jason Shaw writes about another young life lost after anti-gay bullying.

Article first published as It Didn’t Get Better For Jamey Rodemeyer on
Technorati.


While the gay and lesbian service personnel of America’s military celebrate the final ending of 17 years of discrimination under Don’t
Ask Don’t Tell, a less happy, much less triumphant, news story slowly broke.  It’s a story that has become all too common, a young teen taking their own life  due to bullying in school.

Jamey Rodemeyer came from Buffalo, New York. He was your normal 14 year old school kid, had lots of girls as friends, and like millions of others he adored Lady GaGa. He was a little monster, GaGa’s name for her army of fans! Jamey also had a full online social life with Tumblr blogsTwitter  page, YouTube Channel, Facebook page and for a while a Formspring  account.  Oh, and one other thing.  Jamey was gay.  It was because of this, because of his sexuality, that he had to face and endure many years of teasing, bullying and hate. 

Jamey tried to be positive, to look on the bright side of  life and stay strong.  He even made a really upbeat and encouraging ‘It Gets Better’ video back in May,  watch it here.     It’s so touching, as he promises it will get better, as much to himself as to other teens going through similar situations, and facing a world of bullying,   discrimination and hate. It was a hopeful video, as the promise that it gets better always is.   

Even though he had made such a hopeful video, the anti-gay  bullying at his high school increased, and became way too much for him.   He took his own life, found dead outside of his home this past weekend,  just a week after posting the following message on his blog:


“I always say how bullied I am, but no one listens.
What do I have to do people will listen to me?”


Not long after coming home from a family camping trip, Jamey was found dead Sunday. Jamey’s mother Tracy Rodemeyer confirmed he  was always battling with bullying over his sexuality, “so he hung around  with the girls a lot, so then the teasing started happening like ‘Oh you’re  such a girl or you’re gay or whatever and that bothered him for many
years.”

 Jamey’s father Tim Rodemeyer told local media, “To the kids who are bullying they have to realize that words are very powerful and what you think is just fun and games isn’t to some people, and you are destroying a lot of lives.”


It’s such a tragic waste, a life so tormented by the words of
others that the only way out seems to be death. It’s a horrifically sad example of how words are incredibly powerful, so powerful that words can indeed  kill.  When are we going to learn that lesson?


I grew up in small town England in the 70’s and 80’s. Life  was different then; when I came out, I went from having a large circle of  friends and being the life and soul of any party or gathering, to having just  two mates and being a social outcast. It hurt, but hey at least I wasn’t hiding anymore. I was living my life the way I wanted to.

A little while later, I want up to London for the evening, away from my small town and up to the bright lights and big city, not to sightsee, but to go to one of the few gay nightclubs I’d heard about. I had a great time, I remember, but like all good times, it came to and an end, and I had to rush to get the night train home. 

Upon exiting the club and going down the street, I was set  upon by a group of three or four males.  I had no chance; my nose was  broken, a couple of ribs busted, they left me there, bruised and bleeding on the dark street.  The only thing I did wrong was come out of a gay club, my only crime was being gay.

While this group kicked and punched me, they called me names  like queer, bent, poof, shirt-lifter, faggot and that sort of thing.  I  can clearly remember that the names hurt more than the injuries they inflicted,  plus that pain lasted a whole lot longer than the bruises did.  

This was in the 1980’s, I really thought we’d moved on from  such hate, homophobia and discrimination. Yet, have we?  We read a heart  breaking story such as young Jamey taking his own life at just 14 years of age, purely because of the hate, Homophobia and discrimination he was facing at school and I wonder how far we’ve really come in the last 30 years.   

I really find it hard to understand how we as a society can  let this anti-gay bullying go on, but all too often we seem to turn a blind eye to it. Frequently the phrase ‘it’s just kids being kids’ is used in defense of some name calling or insult shouting, but it’s those playground slurs, that snipe and that insult that is dealt out in the school yard that really does hurt.

We want out kids to be better, to behave better, but   can we really expect kids to behave better than we as a society do?    How can we encourage our kids to treat gay and lesbian kids with respect, with  dignity and as an equal when as a society we don’t practise what we  preach.  Every time society seeks to deny equal rights to lesbian and gay  people, or fights to abolish laws that protect lesbian, gay, bisexual people   from discrimination, we are sending a message that it’s okay to call someone   fag, or dyke. 

Every politician that says gays can’t get married, can’t  adopt, can’t have the same legal protections that heterosexual people have,  they are effectively saying that gay people are second class citizens and it’s  perfectly okay to discriminate against that person because say, he’s gay or  she’s a lesbian, or bisexual.   It’s not a religious issue, it’s not  a political issue, it’s a basic human rights issue. How many more teens have to  die before we learn the lesson?    


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