Wednesday, October 19, 2011

15 Year Old Ottawa Boy Jamie Hubley Commits Suicide


According to the Ottawa Citizen, Jamie was the only out gay teen in his highschool. This could not have been an easy thing.  There have been many times when I have been the only Black person in a room and I know the level of discomfort of not seeing anyone who is like you, who understands on an intrinsic level. Though he clearly had friends not having someone who understands what you are going through is an isolating, lonely way to live.
“From the outside, he looked like the happiest kid. He was always smiling and giving everybody hugs in the halls,” said Steph Wheeler, a close friend who had known Jamie since the pair were in figure skating together as children a decade ago.        

        But Wheeler, 16, knew the sensitive boy was struggling with being out in high school and often felt the sting of verbal bullying. She said all that Jamie wanted was what every teenager wants — somebody to love.     

        “I just remember him wanting a boyfriend so bad, he’d always ask me to find a boy for him. I think he wanted someone to love him for who he was,” she said.        

        Jamie had struggled with depression in the past. But despite how he felt on the inside, he often put a smile on his face, setting aside his own pain for others.        

        “Even though he was feeling down all the time, he always made everybody else feel better,” she said.

        “Something to look forward to,” he wrote.    

        But he also wrote of his sadness and despair, about being called a “fag.”

        In a post three weeks ago, he said he was depressed, that medications he was taking weren’t working, and that being gay in high school was so hard — a thousand times harder in real life than on the popular television show, Glee, which he loved.        

        “I hate being the only open gay guy in my school ... It f---ing sucks, I really want to end it,” he wrote. (source)
The school is set to have counselors come into the school to help the grieving teens but I cannot help but wonder where the counselors were when Jamie was being called a gay slur and the posters that he made attempting to start a GLBT organization on campus were torn down? 


His death is yet another in a list that is far too long because of intolerance and hatred. It makes me wonder where the accountability is?  The entire community needs to be ashamed because they all have a role to play in this child's death. Homophobia is institutionalized in Canada despite the fact that same sex marriage is legal.  In three years Jamie may have left highschool and had the opportunity to move to Toronto, but homophobia is something that would have followed him throughout his life. 

As a parent, each time I hear that a teen has committed suicide, it terrifies me. My oldest son is on the cusp of his teen years and I worry that our love won't be enough, if he is faced with bullying on a daily basis.  I worry that he will meet people who are more invested in maintaining their privilege than seeing his humanity.  I worry about the fact that despite the fact that we have raised him to be as aware as possible, that he will keep his pain to himself.  I worry.

I think that parents believe that these deaths are something that will happen to someone else's child, because of course they naturally presume that their kid will be straight.  This means that they don't have a vested interest in talking to their kids about just how harmful homophobia is, and the fact that for many -- it is a death sentence either through their own hand -- or through the violence of another.  I wonder if Jamie ever really had a chance? 

I feel for his parents today because I cannot imagine what the world would be like without the light of my own little men.  The pain must be absolutely torturous. I hope that everyone who reads what happened to Jamie makes it a point to talk to their children today about bullying and why it has to stop.  I hope that parents will sit and talk to their children about homophobia and stress that loving someone no matter who it is, is never something to be ashamed of.  Love elevates us; it makes us more than the sum of our parts and to persecute someone for loving someone of the same sex denies the best part of the human spirit, our ability to embrace each other and find comfort in each other. 

Ending anti gay bullying is not going to happen through catchy programs or public service announcements, but it will end one household at a time, as we teach our children to value each other and to challenge their privileges.  Yes, schools need to enforce a zero bullying policy, but parents need to instill a zero tolerance policy to bigotry within their homes. There should never be any room for hatred.

Sleep well Jamie, and I am so sorry baby boy.