Following the tragic news of 14 year-old Jamey Rodemeyer having taken his own life last Sunday night due to what his parents describe as persistent and pervasive bullying because Jamey was perceived as gay, Lady Gaga, whom Jamey was a devoted fan of, has said that she wants to make bullying illegal.
As news of Jamey’s death spread, Lady Gaga wrote on Twitter that she had been “reflecting, crying, and yelling” over Jamey’s death. She went on to say: “I have so much anger. It is hard to feel love when cruelty takes someones life … Bullying must [be] illegal. It is a hate crime.”
She added: ”I am meeting with our President. I will not stop fighting. This must end. Our generation has the power to end it.”
She then asked her Twitter followers to “trend” it so that the message gets global attention through Twitter, creating the tag “#MakeALawForJamey.”
Jamey, who identified himself as bisexual, had posted an It Gets Better video on YouTube in which he quoted Lady Gaga lyrics saying:
“Hold your head up and you’ll go far. Because that’s all you have to do, just love yourself and you’re set.”
This video was posted in May. His parents say that they do not know what changed since that moment of strength and hope, but obviously something went terribly wrong because on Sunday Jamey again posted lyrics from one of Lady Gaga’s songs “The Queen,” this time to his Facebook wall:
“Don’t forget me when I come crying to heaven’s door.”
He was found dead outside his home by his parents just hours later.
Jamey’s parents have reportedly said they will bury their son in a Lady Gaga t-shirt with the slogan “Born This Way” which was the message that Jamey had tried to convey in his It Gets Better video.
CNN’s Anderson Cooper chose to highlight Jamey’s story this week and talked with Jamey’s parents. You can watch the interview below in which Jamey’s parents talk about what they believes needs to be done to combat bullying in schools as well as online bullying:
Understandably, Jamey’s death has thrown up questions about whether the It Gets Better project is working.
Co-founder Dan Savage appeared on the ”The Early Show” where he wanted people to know that the It Get’s Better project was not meant to take the place of vital action, but to get a message of hope out their:
He said, “They are with these kids to give them an idea of the future that was possible for them if they could hang on. But sometimes hope isn’t enough, and sometimes the future is too remote, and sometimes the bullying is too devastating and too extreme and those times, they just — they break our hearts. But in his pain, you know, I don’t think when you watch Jamey’s ‘It Gets Better’ video, he is clearly speaking to other kids, trying to offer them encouragement, but he is also clearly, now, we know, speaking to himself and trying to encourage himself to hang in there.”
Savage continued, “But even in his pain, he was reaching out and trying to help, and we need to follow his example and continue to reach out and try to help and not let Jamey’s tragic death make us feel hopeless or despair or give up.”
A criminal investigation has now been launched into the bullying that surrounds Jamey’s death. Care2 will have a full update on that later.
Next Page: The Legacy of Last Year’s Suicides
Jamey’s death came nearly a full year since a rash of anti-LGBT bullying related suicides gripped the U.S. and drew international intention.
In fact this week marks the anniversary of Tyler Clementi’s suicide, an 18-year-old Rutgers freshman who took his own life after his roommate allegedly broadcast over the Internet Clementi’s private encounter with another man. This case is now a criminal trial.
A year on, Tyler’s death still echoes in how we talk about combating bullying.
Since last year’s events, Rutgers itself has striven to better help its LGBT students such as through student matching programs so that kids can, if they would like, be housed with other LGBT kids. You can read more on that here.
Those interested can also click here to read an interview with the man that found Tyler Clementi’s body in the Hudson river last year, and how he believes we must ensure that LGBT kids — and all kids that are bullied — know that they matter. That this is imperative to stopping bullying.
The anniversary of Tyler Clementi’s death has also sparked a new campaign called “Bullying is Violence” which you can learn more about here.
In other news Tammy Aaberg, the mother of Anoka-Hennepin teen suicide victim Justin Aaberg who also took his life last year following bullying related to his sexual orientation, recently delivered over 13,000 petition signatures calling on Michele Bachmann to pay attention to a rash of teen suicides in the Minnesota school district — the district is under federal investigation and is the subject of a law suit over a failure to combat bullying and in particular anti-LGBT bullying.
Don’t Suffer in Silence, Get Help
The Trevor Project runs a 24/7 helpline with trained counselors ready to listen if you or someone you know would like to talk about the issues dealt with in this post.
The Trevor Project Helpline number is 1-866-4-U-TREVOR (1-866-488-7386).
Trevor Project Links:
- Follow the Trevor Project on Facebook
- Follow the Trevor Project on Twitter
- Volunteer for the Trevor Project
IMPORTANT: If you live outside America and require information on services in your country the International Association for Suicide Prevention carries information for crisis centers from across the globe. Please click here for those resources.