Today, so many across the country celebrated the once-and-for-all end of Don't Ask Don't Tell. I stopped by the Midtown Filling Station and toasted some of our local queer vets, hugged a couple more at the Mickee Faust Club, and felt the lightness in my own body of knowing that one of the more discriminatory policies of the past was done.
And then my heart sank.
In the Buffalo, NY, suburb of Williamsville, 14 year-old Jamey Rodemeyer committed suicide on Sunday. His parents say Jamey was bullied in middle school with anti-gay slurs and taunts.
The above video is Jamey's "It Gets Better" statement to other kids. He was a fan of the pop star, Lady Gaga. The last message he sent on his Twitter account: @ladygaga bye mother monster, thank you for all you have done, paws up forever.
On a day of much rejoicing, it is a boy like Jamey who reminds us that our work continues. Lady Gaga certainly does try to instill in her fans an understanding that they are beautiful beings worthy of love. PFLAG works tirelessly at promoting a message that all people deserve equal rights. And while the It Gets Better project has its heart in a very good place, I prefer our PFLAG message of "Make It Better Now!" The Jameys of the world need to know that their schools and social clubs are safe, and harrassment via the internet won't be tolerated either.
It's ironic that the Big Bend Anti-Bullying Task Force in Leon County was showing the film, "Bullied" again tonight. Perhaps someone should ship a copy of the film to Jamey's high school in upstate New York.
The Don't Ask, Don't Tell chapter is closed. I look forward to when we finish the chapters on things such as bullicide of queer teens. One day, this country will get bored with the Book of Homophobia. But we are far from the end at this point.
Grant O Lord, Jamey, eternal rest
And may light perpetual shine upon him.