Friday, October 1, 2010

For Tyler

A young man named Tyler committed suicide a few days ago. He left a note on his Facebook page: “Jumping off the gw bridge sorry.”

No matter how often something like this happens, it’s a tragedy.

This story is even sadder than sad.

It turns out that Tyler was a recent high school graduate who had just begun university. His roommate secretly set his webcam to spy on him having a sexual encounter in his dorm room, and then sent the video feed to some of his friends.

When Tyler discovered what his roommate had done, he was so humiliated that he posted the Facebook message, drove to the George Washington Bridge in New York, and jumped to his death.

Tyler was an accomplished violinist whose music touched everyone.

Although the roommate who posted the video isn’t known to be a bad guy, he had posted this on Twitter: “Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly's room and turned on my Web cam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.”

Apparently, Tyler’s parents didn’t know he was gay.

So here we have an incredibly sad and tragic story. A young man is trying to cope with being gay. For whatever reasons, he wasn’t able to share this innermost secret with his family, so wasn’t able to get any support there.

Then, when it seems the whole world is about to find out his secret, the humiliation overwhelms him and he finds no solution but to end it all.

A wonderful life cut short.
A talented young man no longer able to move others with his music.
A student who isn’t able to live out his dreams.
Another young gay kid who hasn’t been able to find the support he needs to be able to stand against the tide of homophobia around him.

Nothing is said in the news reports I read about this (here and here) regarding matters of faith or church connections. But you can well imagine the lack of support he would have received in many church settings. I can just imagine the lack of sympathy this whole story generates, once the detail of his gayness becomes known. (As a point of interest, did your feelings about Tyler change once you discovered he was gay?)

And perhaps that is almost as big a tragedy as the death of Tyler Clementi.

Tyler, society failed you. We failed you. We didn’t stand with you, or let you know you were safe and loved and accepted.

Let’s take some steps to change things for the next Tyler.

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