Jamey Rodemeyer is a 14 year old boy who's life was cut short because of anti-gay bullying. Jamey fell victim to hateful words and actions put forth by his classmates because of his sexuality. Honestly, every time I hear this story I feel sick to the point of tears. I am currently sitting in a hotel room in Nashville and I heard about this tragedy tonight as we spoke at Vanderbilt University. I came home, read about the story and was ultimately lead to an It Gets Better Youtube video Jamey made and posted 5 months ago. I couldn't help but cry as I watched him confidently let the world know that he was proud of who he was-- knowing that back to school this Fall must have become so hard for him, he decided his life wasn't worth living. I wanted so badly to jump into the computer and hug him.
As amazing as people can be, its so incredible to me how human beings bully groups of other human beings. When did certain people decide that they have the authority to make decisions and assumptions about people that they see as "different." We are ALL different. Human beings-- a species that used to be convinced the world is flat, that women were witches and should be burned at the stake, and refused to drink from the same water fountain as a person with a darker skin pigmentation. We hear those things and think it sounds insane but during those times, people were just as convicted and convinced in their beliefs as people who think being gay means you are going to hell. History repeats itself, just as it is now. Why don't we learn from our mistakes? We are constantly changing, evolving and discovering and one day we will look back at this time and mourn over these unnecessary deaths and wonder how we could be so ignorant and archaic.
My heart goes out to his family and friends. Let this be yet another devastating example of how hate can kill.
In middle school, I too was in a place of feeling like there was no way out. In my head, the only solution to my bullying was to take my own life. As someone who has been in this place, I can only hope and pray that girls and boys who are struggling with bullying seek help rather than take this devastating measure. I know when bullying takes place in school, it seems like your whole world is crashing. When you go through this, it is really hard to see outside the school halls and to focus on the bigger picture and know that there is so much more to life...that there are so many chapters of your life ahead of you. When you are in school, it seems like the most important thing is to fit in and be accepted. I get it...those social pressures can be paralyzing. I had one friend in middle school and was tormented daily and I thought that was going to be the state of my life forever. Guess what? It wasn't. If someone would have told me in middle school that I would have the amazing friends I do now and would experience the things that I have, I wouldn't have believed a word of it. Please trust me when I say you have so much more to experience, people to meet and love to give to the world. You are NOT ALONG and you WILL get through this. Your current experience is NOT your entire life story and I thank God every day that I am here today able to share my story with girls and boys to let them know-- IT DOES GET BETTER.
As this school year begins, BE KIND to your peers. If you don't have anything nice to say, just DON'T say it. Reach out and stick up for those being ostracized or picked on. We can all think of certain boys and girls who get bullied or sit alone at lunch. Be there for those people. Again, I know this is easier said than done but I promise you, coming from someone who was in school just a couple years ago, I wish I could go back and stick up for certain people. You don't have to make a grand gesture to create change within your school and to take a stand. Go sit with someone who is alone at lunch or ask someone how their day is going. You may think that will make you uncool, but later in life you will look back and be proud of that moment. Sometimes it just takes a simple KIND act to save a life.