I came across this sweet video of Jamey Rodemeyer, a young American boy struggling with his sexuality. Despite vicious and relentless bullying at school, he had the strength of character to send a message of hope to all young people everywhere who are grappling to understand who they are and to make sense of their feelings. He called his message ‘It Gets Better, I promise’.
Unfortunately it didn’t get better for Jamey. On Sunday 18th of September, he committed suicide. He was just 14. No one will ever really know why he took his own life. The internet is full of conspiracy theories (as usual). What we do know is that he was gay and brutalised by his class mates. Nobody stopped them.
I know how lucky I am. I have a charmed life. I have always had the support of my family and have always felt loved. I am one of the lucky few. I know Blighty isn’t perfect. I know some people harbour dark views. I know some children are bullied. But I’m glad I grew up in a country that is genuinely free, a civilised little island where political correctness has gone mad, according to the more reactionary among us. Well, tough. I’m glad it’s not okay to say paki, nigger, queer or spastic. I’m glad people have to watch what they say and what they do. I’m glad bigotry has consequences. That’s why people died fighting Hitler. Lest we forget.
Take a look at:
20 thoughts on “Jamey Roddemeyer, RIP”
I didn’t feel quite right clicking the “Like” button but this is a very touching and sad video. Poor Jamey. I am going to share it with some of my gay friends here in Jamaica. Well, if you went to parts of the U.S. you would be amazed at how free it is (San Francisco – my fave city – for example) – but it very much depends which part of the country you live in. It’s not quite fair to brand the whole of the U.S. that way. And sadly there are homophobes everywhere. At least President Obama and Hillary Clinton have spoken out very strongly against homophobia (and so does my boss, the U.S. Ambassador to Jamaica, where as you know homophobia is endemic – which is quite a brave thing to do. Funnily enough, she received zero support for her outspoken comments from the British diplomats here…)
Well, our diplomats should be ashamed. God knows there are enough gay people in the Foreign Office. I’ve been to the US many times and have always had a wonderful time surrounded by liberal people. But then I chose to go to NY, Boston, LA etc. The trouble is that so many parts of the Land of the Free are dominated by religious nutters with real politic power unheard of in Western Europe. Some of what I hear these people say chills me to the bone, just like the Talaban. I’m sure Obama’s a good guy but his hands are tied. Ironically, Jamey was from Buffalo, hardly in the Bible Belt.
Yes, only the European Union has come out in support of Ambassador Bridgewater’s comments so far, and the UN reps. But some Latin American countries have become surprisingly liberal in their approach – not least Cuba and Brazil… But “blighty” is a member of the EU so perhaps that counts, then. Buffalo is certainly not Bible belt but I’ve heard it’s a bit of a dump, and it’s ignorance as much as religious fanaticism I guess (although in my book the two go together). It’s really, really sad…
Jack keep fighting your not alone. Just to show that equalities isn’t always sad, dull and boring, I thought I would share a story with you.
Every month I do a workshop with young people (mostly men) and challenge some of their commonly held beliefs, which many hold mostly through ignorance. We get into a game called truth behind the headline where we try to work out what is a myth and what is the truth, things like – all lesbians want 3 in a bed sex with men (uh!!) , all muslims are terrorists etc. Anyway one lad was hard work and had some firmly held beliefs about young women being slags, some of the others in the group challenging him. Here’s how it went….
Him .. well it’s true they’re all getting them brazilian things and fake tits
Me … ok so what’s the truth behind the statement
group…no it’s not true, lots of girls aren’t slags.
me … ok so why does ? hold these beliefs, what is behind the headline?
him… well you sort of see them all in magazines
me …what sort of magazines are they
him… like the internet and stuff
me…. so you talking porn mags
him… yeah well tasty all those girls are slags, well up for it
group… no that’s not fair some of the girls in mags are not slags
me…ok get back on the subject what is the truth behind ? belief that all girls are slags
wee wit from back… we don’t know if the girls are slags or not, be we do know ? watches lots of porn so the truth is he’s a wanker!!!!!
Who could argue with that!
That made me laugh on sombre day. Thank you and keep up the good work.
There’s a campaign right now in the US called, It Gets Better, it’s slightly depressing that celebs have to go and make these videos and tell kids to hold on for later in life, because it will get better… but I guess it’s better than nothing.
Every little helps. It’s an important campaign because people listen to celebs. Maybe they shouldn’t but they do. I really don’t want to appear as a Yankee-basher. I really admire America for its innovation, diversity and freedom but I can’t help feeling that with that freedom comes responsibility and respect.
Actually, my daughter and I had a conversation just yesterday afternoon about how labels and names get perpetuated in current conversation (especially among young people), and what may seem harmless to some is actually offensive to others. What happened to Jamey is reprehensible. Many people are working hard to counter bullying and anti-homophobic actions. Unfortunately such actions exist in many, many places around the world, for myriad reasons (political, economic, religious, cultural, social, etc.). I’m not going to address your comments about the US other than to say that throwing labels up about an entire country does an incredible disservice. If there are two things I’ve learned in my years of working and living overseas, it’s that it is oh so easy to generalize about a place you don’t live in, and that it usually is inaccurate and almost always unhelpful to the conversation. Jamey deserved better. So do thousands upon thousands of others being bullied, shunned, victimized around the globe.
As I said, it’s not intended to be anti-American rant and I’m sorry if you take it this way. If Jamey’s death had happened in Britain, France, China or wherever I would have written the same post. In fact I did live in the US for a short while but then became homesick and returned to Britain. I guess we hear more about what comes out of America because of the sophisticated media infrastructure that exists in the States. Obviously terrible things happen all around the world (including in Britain – and I’ve written about that too) but this doesn’t detract from Jamey’s tragedy. Nor should it. I recently posted on Facebook about an African man who was burned alive in street because he was apparently gay (though there’s no conclusive proof of this but that hardly matters). This doesn’t mean that I’m anti-African. The reality is that most Western European countries have a robust legal equalities framework in place to protect minorities.This doesn’t guarantee safety but it is a strong statement of political intent. That’s my whole point, really.
As a result of a gay friend posting this vid on his FB wall, a ‘friend’ of his made a comment indicating he thought it was amusing, (this ‘friend’ didn’t know my friend is gay). I reproached him and the ensuing sickening Homophobic exchange left me trembling and angry. This person is English. I was stunned at what he said and I (stupidly) thought people had moved on. Clearly not.
Actually some of the things he said left a few of us thinking he was a closet Gay…..
I hope Jamey’s death helps others to think about what goes on. Then his death wont have been a total waste of a life.
I hope so too. I’m a great believer in what goes around, comes around. This silly man may one day regret his vile words. You could be right. Some people with unresolved issues can kick against the very thing they most want.
Bigotry of whatever type is caused by ignorance.Ignorance is due to lack of education.A childs first school is it’s home and it’s first teachers are it’s parents.This is where bigotry is born and raised.
Thank you to my beautiful parents who,although typical middle class conservatives,were light years ahead of their time in raising myself and my brothers to understand that we have no right to interfere with or deride the lifestyle and ideologies of our fellow humans and that respect is such an important word.
RIP to all the Jamey’s of this world.
I agree with what you said. If only people knew how to respect each other. If only people would never look at someone’s sexual preference with such cold eyes filled with so much loathing, then there’d be no more wasted lives due to bullying because of their sexual preferences.
Wonderful parents indeed. You are rightly proud of them as I’m sure they are of you.
I absolutely agree with you – as I mentioned above, it is truly sheer ignorance and that can come from surprising quarters sometimes. And as you say, a surprisingly open-minded approach can come from people like your parents (and mine) who although they were brought up in an age of considerably less information and understanding of these matters, know the meaning of the word respect – and tolerance.
To be honest, I feel bad for the people who bullied him because of his sexuality. When I was a child, I always get taunts from my classmates calling me gay, faggot, and the like, and it completely drove me mad. However, I realized that if I let their taunts get through me, then what would become of me? And after that, I didn’t let my sexuality define who I am, instead, I used it as an armor to help me completely accept myself (although I was still having an identity crisis until the day I decided to come out of the closet). But I know not all people are like me. They have low self-esteem caused probably caused by lack of love and support from family and friends. If only people are accepting like our own family, then, probably, some people who are undergoing this kind of bullying would be able to stand with their heads held up high while saying: I am gay, so what? I am born this way!
Words may be just words, but it can cut deep without anybody noticing it but only us. But if we get enough love, attention, and support from the people we love, then other people’s opinion wouldn’t matter at all.
Wise words. Like you, as a young man, I used my sexuality as a shield and wore it proudly. It mattered little to me what people thought of me because I did feel loved and supported by those I loved and supported.
Thanks for posting this, Jack. It’s powerful, moving and disturbing that he had tp create the video in the first place.
It’s happening all too often across the world but I’m heartened by the http://www.itgetsbetter.org campaign.