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If being gay is so much easier in this day and age, why are kids still killing themselves over it?

Updated on September 23, 2011

Jamey Rodemeyer's It Gets Better Video

If being gay is so much easier in this day and age, why are kids still killing themselves over it? (For those of you who will leave bible quotations below, I all ready know your thoughts on the matter.) Recently a young man named Jamey Rodemeyer committed suicide. The claim is that he was bullied in school with the usual gay taunts and chose to end his life instead of endure the bullying. I’m sorry to say I was not shocked to hear of another suicide related to bullying nor that this young man identified as bisexual and felt this had caused much of his taunting at school. What I was surprised about was that this young man had actually made a video for the It Gets Better campaign (a web campaign devoted to people submitting videos to let kids know that “It Gets Better” so as to discourage them from committing suicide). I began wondering why a kid who knew about this project that I felt was so good and important and doing all the right things would still choose to end his life, even after making and submitting his own video. I got mad. I’m still angry.

I am not one of those gays who had a traumatic coming out. I always knew I was gay and I’m pretty sure my parents, brother, extended family and anyone who ever met me did too. I was bullied through all of my school days and while I cried and lied about the bruises I never thought of taking my own life. Maybe you can chalk it up to my mother’s excellent administration of Jewish guilt (I knew it would kill her if I killed myself). I grew up way before gays were known as gays. There was no Glee, no Lady Gaga. We had Paul Lynde (who told everyone he was straight) and a handful of other people who all seemed more a stereotypical character like the court jester than an actual gay human being. (Even today the gay characters on television appear this same way more often than we’d all like to see)

So I began to wonder how I survived and even thrived in the game of life when I didn’t have The Trevor Project (excellent resource for gay teens thinking of suicide) or even the online It Gets Better project. What I believe made the biggest difference for me was that I had parents who instilled in me a very important quality, I’ve never spent a day of my life not knowing I was loved or wondering whether or not my parents loved me. That’s right, even as I brought home the first failing grade ever in my family (in geometry the same year my brother was named the best in the state in mathematics), when I lied and got caught, and even when I brought home a six foot black man who was a former altar boy as my spouse. No matter what I’ve done in my life I’ve always tried to make my parents proud of me. My father told me to be an honest man and my mother told me it was more important to be a good person than anything else. But most importantly, they loved me and let me know that doing these things were all it would ever take for me to make them proud of me.

I am not suggesting that Jamey’s parents didn’t tell him he was loved and I’m not suggesting that this is some cure-all for the teen suicide epidemic going on, especially by gay teens. As I write this there are thousands of people who are demanding Jamey’s tormentors be put through the legal system for hate crimes against this young boy. But are the bullies the ones responsible for this young man’s death? More importantly, what can we do to prevent not just one more kid from taking their own life but all of them?

My thought would be that we all need to start building up the self-esteem of kids so that bullying and taunts don’t penetrate so deeply to the psyches of these kids. Yes, I’m saying we have to make tougher kids. How do we do that? We don’t allow kids to manipulate their parents who find it easier to agree with the kids than to discipline and follow through with the discipline no matter how much they whine. Boundaries, people! We show kids that there are consequences for every action you take in life no matter how old you are and that if you don’t learn this early on then society will teach it to you from the inside of a prison cell eventually. But mostly importantly, let’s not give them a false sense of self-esteem and have the entire population become as delusional as the contestants on American Idol who can’t stay on pitch let alone sing and are angry at the world because they didn’t get a gold ticket. You have to earn other people and respect for yourself by being an honest person and a good person.

Look, the world is nuts out there. All you have to do is look around. When you have people hoping to become the next leaders of our country stand silent while their followers clap for the death penalty and boo a gay soldier fighting for all of our rights no one is safe. But I’m not going to kill myself over morons like these with their bullying mob mentality and neither should any kid when faced with their own attackers. We need to teach kids that they are responsible for how they feel and that they should not give that power to the bullies in school or in life. And to all the gay kids out there, shhhh, don’t tell anyone but it gets better because gays ARE better! Just watch my video for the It Gets Better Campaign!

Some Like It Scott's It Gets Better Video


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    • bassgodjimmy profile image

      bassgodjimmy 5 years ago from New Jersey

      At my school,(i forgot what day)but me and a bunch of other people wore purple to commemorate all the LGBT youth that killed themselves.

    • somelikeitscott profile image

      somelikeitscott 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Wow! Look at me having the right idea (for once)...CNN article about building kids' self esteem as a way to protect them from the damage of bullying!

    • jabbo1 profile image

      jabbo1 5 years ago from Iowa

      We can't let it get to us! I will be checking out your site :-)

    • somelikeitscott profile image

      somelikeitscott 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      bambannpebbles - Thanks for reading and writing in. Let's face it, surviving childhood is getting tougher and tougher it seems. I just think we need to ensure kids have a better sense of self.

      jabbo1 - I thank God every day for the parents I got in the gene pool. They have been an unwavering source of support. And I know about "apologetics" and let me just say no matter what hate gets thrown at me (on hubpages or my own site - I've learned to not let it bother me. Thanks for reading and writing in!

    • jabbo1 profile image

      jabbo1 5 years ago from Iowa

      great hub scott! You were very privileged to have awesome parents. I feel very fortunate that I didn't realize I was gay until I was 28. Just a little dense! LOL I have learned that the bullies have to learn it from somewhere. I agree it starts with the parents and boundaries and instilling it in them that you just don't treat people that way. Oh yah watch out for apologetics...he is a hater. :-)

    • bambamnpebbles profile image

      bambamnpebbles 5 years ago from Iowa

      Honestly, someone needs to tell these hetero kids that it gets better. Don't worry honey, when you're strong enough to come out and tell the world you're in love with this kid instead of making them feel lower than dirt for having the guts now, you will! Buck up buttercup!

      I don't think anyone is any better than anyone else, I believe that our little lgbt brothers and sisters have a huge battle just like our little religous brothers and sisters. The world is filled with people with no kind of vision for life, or direction. People hate everything and everyone so those with a path in front of them get a dead end from the hateful. What is it these kids' business whether that boy was gay or straight? Noone cares if you are ya little haters. Most of the time I believe that some of the teachers don't respond because of their own beliefs and it scares me and makes me so sad. I want to hold these children in my arms and let them know they are special and kind and funny and one day, if they keep fighting, they will be someone's most special. God, whatever angle the hate is coming from or where we have GOT to do something for these young people. My heart is just broken. I am glad for this hub.

    • somelikeitscott profile image

      somelikeitscott 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      apologetics - I believe with every fiber of my being that you are wrong. I was a kid who was bullied and survived to know how wonderful life can be and now have shared it with the same man for 23 years. I'm sorry if this was not the case for you but understand that for many of us, we have survived and now thrive.

    • apologetics profile image

      apologetics 5 years ago

      I think because it doesn't get better. It never did!

    • somelikeitscott profile image

      somelikeitscott 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks everyone for the comments. Not sure if you saw it but Anderson Cooper had Jamey's parents and his sister on Monday. Amazing to me that so few are talking about getting these kids some real self esteem. Too many are blaming schools, parents and social media. How about fixing the problem before it begins by giving kids a strong sense of self and belonging to their families first and friends/outside influences way down the list?

    • The Taco Tagger profile image

      The Taco Tagger 5 years ago

      yea, ok... I'm a Christian and in no way am I going to "bible thump" or "spout out how wrong homosexuality is." I have no reason to go there honestly, your sexual preference is yours and yours alone. What I will say, is that those kids were taught the wrong message about how to treat people. First, and foremost, Jesus loved everyone, and therefore I will as well, but I digress.

      It seems as if the people that take their lives have finally hit their breaking point. With opression like that, it all comes down to what a persons breaking point is and how far they've been pushed. This poor kid that killed himself must have finally reached it and now he is gone. I totally agree with this hub. We need to build self esteem and tell kids that it's ok to be who they want to be and that it does get better despite the massive mountainous bumps in the road. Good hub, keep it up because the world needs it.

    • lisadpreston profile image

      lisadpreston 5 years ago from Columbus, Ohio

      This just makes me sick. I hope those bullies are really proud of themselves. I wish their bible thumping parents would quit spouting off telling them how wrong homosexuality is and tell them how wrong bullying and terrorizing people is.

      Bullying is a direct result of feeling totally powerless, therefore picking on something they perceive as weaker such as woman, children, animals, gays, minorities, etc. If parents would empower their children and not make them feel so small, maybe they wouldn't feel the need to belittle someone to feel big. Wake up parents before it is too late.

      Thank you for this eye opening hub, Scott. You are a blessing.

    • livelonger profile image

      Jason Menayan 5 years ago from San Francisco

      I think things are getting a lot better, but that doesn't mean good enough (yet). Attitudes are changing pretty rapidly, but there are, sadly, still so many pockets of ignorance and cruelty out there, and gay kids are still among the most vulnerable to it. Thanks for your thoughts on this - I think your instincts are right on target.

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Put that way, I totally agree! ;D

    • somelikeitscott profile image

      somelikeitscott 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      JamaGenee - I completely get where you're coming from on this one.

      Still, I can't help but believe that the whole issue is about self esteem for both the bully and the bullied. I think we need to start developing better ways to lift kids up instead of telling them how wonderful they are for doing little to nothing. Show them how to be self-confident and self-reliant and we just may take the focus off of making other people feel bad and worrying more about making ourselves feel better about ourselves by being better to other people.

      Just a thought!

    • JamaGenee profile image

      Joanna McKenna 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

      Scott, it makes me angry too that Jamey Rodemeyer was bullied so badly! He may have committed the actual act that ended his life, but those who bullied him so relentlessly are indeed guilty of his murder. Murder of his self-esteem and murder of his will to live, for which they should be punished as the murderers they are.

      That said, it pains me to add that bullies bully to get the self-worth lacking at home. In many cases a bully is the child of an abusive or over-strict parent, and only acts out how he's treated by that parent or family authority figure, or mimics the behavior of them.

      However...and I stress that the time he (or she) reaches middle or high school, he/she has been exposed to other authority figures and influences that should neutralize or override any urge to bully. So I can't muster the least bit of sympathy for such kids when, having several behavioral models to pick from, they consciously CHOOSE bullying over NOT bullying.

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 5 years ago from Neverland

      Sadly, people are afraid of that which they don't understand...something different from what they know. I wish I knew how to help people realize being gay ISNT being different.

    • somelikeitscott profile image

      somelikeitscott 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Pamela - Couldn't agree more!

      Amber - I agree with you too - too much press for the bullies and not enough for the good people!!

      Daffy Duck - Well, again, I agree with you too. I think religion is just fine. It's when it begins to get "organized" that the problems and hypocrisy seems to run rampant!

    • Daffy Duck profile image

      Daffy Duck 5 years ago from Cornelius, Oregon

      It's a shame that these things happen. Being gay/lesbian probably wouldn't be an issue if it were not for religion. I think religion does encourage a lot of good behavior, but that's about all it's good for. I have found that religious people are some of the most unflexible, narrow minded, and judgmental people around. They encourage discrimination based on beliefs not on facts. it's too bad there are people like that.

      It is interesting to note that not all people who go to church oppose gays/lesbians and them getting married.

      Also there seems to be more opposition prevelant against gays/lesbians than against bullying. Maybe we should focus on eliminating what has been proven to be harmful instead of protecting our beliefs and hurting innocent people.

    • profile image

      Amber 5 years ago

      Amen, Scott. It's hard to think about it getting better when you are unequipped to deal with the right now. Your message is spot on.

      "Sticks and stones" may be trite, but it's also true. Names can't hurt you when you're a good human and know it. It's your responsibility to make sure you're a good human (using, one hopes, lessons learned from your parents and extended family) and everyone else needs to acknowledge outstanding humanity wherever and whenever they see it. Let's prop up the good people instead of making celebs of the bad 'uns for a change. Hugs.

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 5 years ago from Oklahoma

      Scott, these stories break my heart too. I think having parents that love you and accept you the way you are no matter what is the best support system. If you feel ridiculed at home as well as school you don't feel much like living.

    • somelikeitscott profile image

      somelikeitscott 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      JayneC - I think anyone who is perceived as "different" has a hard time of it. Murder is murder and those responsible should be punished.

      Paradise7 - I'm with you, Karma is a bitch and I can only hope the bitch visits every door of every bully. That said, there are those who realize what they've done and later ask forgiveness. I see no reason to not forgive. I just get so mad when I hear of these young kids taking their lives. Sure I want them to know "it gets better" but I also want them to know how fabulous they are, even if they can't see it at the moment because they're allowing other peoples' judgments to cloud their own.

      Thanks for reading and writing!

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 5 years ago from Upstate New York

      Ah, Scott, you're beautiful. I love your positive message. Yes, it's crazy. Yes, sometimes people ARE unspeakably cruel. Don't let it bury you! That's your message, and it's a good one, well stated.

      I'm really so sorry that bright, personable, nice young man took his own life. I'm just so very sorry.

      If I could hate anyone with my whole heart, it is a bully, of any kind. Why would someone so torment, bully and harrass another human being to the point of taking his own life? I hope the bully or bullies responsible suffer their very own special brand of Gehanna, where what they delivered is dished right back to them, tenfold.

      To Janyne: I did read about a transgender female, former football player, who was murdered. I had the idea from the article that the murder was related to drugs, not to the transgender issue. I know that's very paltry reassurance.

    • Janyne C profile image

      Janyne C 5 years ago from Long Beach California

      I don't know if it's any better but it is different. I am not gay but am TG. I see young people coming out and seem to be accepted then I hear about a TG who is murdered.