Bullied Gay Teen Jamey Rodemeyer, 14, Kills Himself in Buffalo

14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer didn’t have many male friends. He hung out with girls, and he hung out on the internet, where he proclaimed and celebrated his love for Lady Gaga on his tumblr, wrote a personal blog, used twitter, opened a formspring account (like many people who open a formspring account, Jamey realized quickly that doing so was “a mistake”), and made videos for YouTube. In May 2011, Jamey Rodemeyer even made an “It Gets Better” video, in which he tells us that despite the bullying, his real friends were very supportive of his coming out. He thanked Lady Gaga for helping him learn to love himself.

Were things better? His parents and friends seemed to think things were getting slightly better. But then September came around and Jamey had to start all over again as a freshman in high school — Williamsville North High School in Buffalo, New York.

The first week of September, according to Buffalo News, Jamey wrote on his blog that “No one in my school cares about preventing suicide, while you’re the ones calling me a faggot and tearing me down” and “I always say how bullied I am, but no one listens. What do I have to do so people will listen to me?”

This past Sunday, Jamey Rodemeyer he was found dead outside his home in an apparent suicide.

Jamey’s Mother: “He touched so many hearts. I didn’t realize how many people he touched. He was the sweetest, kindest kid you’d ever know. He would give all his heart to you before he gave any to himself.”

Jamey’s Friend Olivia:  “He was always putting people first. He always wanted other people to smile, even on the worst of his days.”

jamey's great-grandmother had recently died

Jamey’s family went camping last weekend and his Mom said Jamey “seemed happy” and “lately, he’s been blowing off [taunts from peers], or at least we thought he was.” She says he was seeing a social worker and a therapist.

Last February another teenager at Williamsville North High School committed suicide, and the school was putting together a “depression and suicide prevention program” and offering counseling services. School officials defend themselves: “The school can offer these services, but we can’t force students to partake of them, and we’re only one piece of the puzzle. It’s really a question of us all working together.”

In eight days it will have been one year since I wrote about the death of 13-year-old Asher Brown. I didn’t know it then, but that was the first of seven posts I’d write last fall about gay teenagers killing themselves, and the first of many on the fallout from those deaths. I was thinking the other day that it had almost been a year, and that maybe things had truly changed.

Don’t Ask Don’t Tell ended its discriminatory reign today. Glee is on tonight. But none of this matters in the hallway, does it?

At the end of the It Gets Better video, Jamey told his unknown audience:

“Look at me, I’m doing fine. I went to the Monster Ball and now I’m liberated. Love yourself and you’re set. I promise you, it gets better.”


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Riese is the 35-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York City and mellowed out in California before returning to Michigan for reasons that are unclear to her now — she is currently plotting her return to the West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

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42 Comments

  1. 0

    I appreciated what Dan Savage wrote on holding bullies accountable: “His tormenters need to be held to account—not bullied themselves, not prosecuted or persecuted, but held to account—for their actions, for their hate, for the harm they’ve caused. They should be asked if they’re “WAY more happier” now, if they’re pleased with themselves, and if they have anything to say to the mother of the child they succeeded in bullying to death.”

    Last week we went to a Back to School night for my kid’s junior high, and bullying was one of the principal’s key messages. He stressed parental involvement, insisting parents access their kids’ social networking accounts and monitor their activities vigilantly to help do their part to ensure that bullying among classmates even OFF school grounds doesn’t happen, or is at least caught right away.

    He elaborated on how they at school do their best to immediately address and swiftly punish/correct any bullying, but that there’s nothing they can do if they aren’t made aware of it. They offer anonymity to kids reporting bullying they see or experience, first-hand or not, and I was pretty pleased with all of that – it’s important to set the tone for the year right away.

    Still, my daughter has gay moms herself and lots of gay friends at school. As far as I can tell it’s all NBD, but we live in a Bay Area bubble, and one needn’t go very far at all to know it’s not the case elsewhere. It breaks my heart.

    You just want to scoop these kids up and put them someplace they can be who they are and it’s okay, where they can just be kids for crying out loud.

  2. 0

    I completely agree with Paper0Flowers. I feel like we failed him. Maybe this is that wakeup call that we all need (myself included) to go down to the awkwardness that’s the local gay center and be the reassurance one of our kids needs. Or hell, via internet or your brother’s, cousin’s, friend’s sister. Anything. No one in the mainstream is going to care about our youth like we do. It’s time for us to challenge ourselves to make our community better. One hug, one word can truly make the difference.

  3. 0

    This breaks my heart. why is there so much hate in the world?he was a child. the world has lost an amazing person, and our LGBT community has lost a family member. Poor Jamey, I hope that one day things truly do get better for our young LGBTQ kids…

  4. 0

    What a tragic waste.

    I can’t stress enough to people how important it is for parents to monitor their kid’s internet. It’s been said ad nauseam, but people don’t seem to be getting it :/

    I see this problem with my friends & my god children. Their kids (ages 3 – 16) are ‘friending’ adults they barely know (new boyfriends of Aunts, wtf), posting webcam vids and pics from their lounge and I’m calling my friends saying “um, do you know what your 3 & 7 year old are doing right now?? (feeling like I’M crossing some friend boundary). These kids are so tech savvy (even the 3 year old).

    My friends are good parents, but they think their kids/teens are just being adorable and I’m left wondering wtf?!! I feel like if “good” parents aren’t even concerned about this, then how will any of these relaxed parents notice their distressed kid online, saying goodbye to his followers? :'(

    I can’t help but feel we’re failing Generation Z, by unleashing all this technology on them, then not guiding them properly through it… and life. I know I’m sounding like a nanna 🙂

    There are some issues with the “It Gets Better” campaign – mostly that it’s so on the surface and often feels like a shallow cheerleading thing… It doesn’t particularly tell the truth, especially for those living outside the big gay cities. You’ve got these kids waiting for it to get better and in reality, it may take years – in my case, I’m in the 30’s and still waiting for it to get better – due to geography and money.

    So as well as telling kids (and adults) “It gets better!” we need to be teaching them its about COPING SKILLS and how you develop them.

  5. 0

    As someone with a 14-year old daughter (who has been bullied online), I need to say that Formspring is one of the most ill-conceived, cynical and destructive web sites ever created. It’s custom made for teens to bully one another and it’s time the owners of Formspring to be taken to task for creating the ultimate tool for teens to pick on one another. Their pathetic attempts at feigning empathy for bullied teens is a pr joke.

  6. 0

    As someone with a 14-year old daughter (who has been bullied online), I need to say that Formspring is one of the most ill-conceived, cynical and destructive web sites ever created. It’s custom made for teens to bully one another (I can’t imagine they ever thought it would amount to anything else) and it’s time the owners of Formspring to be taken to task for creating the ultimate tool for teens to pick on one another. Their pathetic attempts at feigning empathy for bullied teens is a pr joke.

  7. 0

    An old high school classmate of mine committed suicide a few weeks ago after years of relentless bullying due to him being gay. I hadn’t seen or heard from him in 5 years.

    It tears my heart every time this happens, but when it’s someone you actually knew, there are no words.

  8. 0

    I have been carrying this sorrow since I read about Jamey yesterday, wondering what I could do. What I realized I could do was to send a letter to my hr department regarding instances of hostile work environment (I have a part-time job in a heavily hetero-male field and my supervisor says terrible, horrible, anti-gay things all the time). I had been trying just to deal, not rock the boat, and not let it get to me–but I realized that I want to be a part of fighting for a world where the bullying and hatred that leads to this kind of destruction of a beautiful life is not okay. Hopefully my little letter will change things for someone else in our corporation who is feeling bullied and harassed.

  9. 0

    Dear Gods… I have a heart of icy steel, and I cried watching his video. I remember all too well what it’s like to be that little kid. The loss of that beautiful soul and all the potential he had has just hit me so hard. This boy could have been so much. Somewhere out there, another boy has lost his soulmate, and that breaks my heart.

  10. 0

    I hope every person who ever said anything remotely hurtful to this brilliant kid will live forever with their guilt firmly on their shoulders, every day. I hope they think of Jamey every day. It will never compare to the sadness all of Jamey’s family and friends will feel daily.

    Jamey, Little Monster, I hope you’re riding a gay unicorn over rainbows somewhere. Keep smiling, baby boy.

  11. 0

    We don’t know for sure if bullying caused his ultimate death. All we know is that he had alot of friends and support, more support than his parents gave him for being gay. We know that it happened on the same weekend that he went to a family camping trip, returned, and then killed himself. Why? was it mental imbalance, fight with parents? depression? bullying at home? bullying outside home? We don’t know for sure. All we know is that it was suicide and Suicide prevention is what needs more attention than bullying.

  12. 0

    Hello:

    I have been reading the paper and watching the news regarding Jamey Rodemeyer and the one missing component that I am not hearing is anyone distinguishing Homophobic Bullying from other types of bullying as they are completely separate. I wish to include a portion of my graduate thesis http://jasonjdotbiz.wordpress.com/ if for no reason than to raise awareness. Thank you

    “Homophobic bullying is not like other types of bullying. If a student is bullied based on race, religion, their weight etc., they can run home to an understanding (often relatable) parent/family who understands their pain and can console them. Gay youth do not have that refuge as they 1) Are usually not out to themselves yet, and 2) fear being thrown out of their homes and family. This pent up frustration, hurt and anger eventually leads to what has (sadly) been happening in the media as of late.”

    Jason Galvez

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