The other week I woke up, rolled over, and reached for my iPhone, as I do. I finger pinched and swiped my way to Facebook – to see who had had trouble sleeping during the night, who was awake early, and who was having what for breakfast. As I scrolled down, a newsfeed made my stomach drop. I read the news of another gay teen’s suicide in America, caused by bullying. On Sunday 18th of September 2011, Jamey Rodemeyer took his own life. He was only 14. I’m reproducing the article below from

September 21, 2011 6:53 PM
The real, deadly toll of bullying gay kids
(CBS News)

In Washington Wednesday, the Department of Education hosted its second annual summit to combat bullying.

It’s a nationwide problem, that CBS News correspondent Elaine Quijano reports was painfully highlighted this week by the death of a high school freshman from Buffalo.
Tracy Rodemeyer, mother of 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer, struggles with the aftermath.

“It hurts me so, to think my son felt like he was not worthy of anything,” Tracy says.
Jamey had been bullied relentlessly since 5th grade. His parents, Tim and Tracy, found his body on Sunday.

“It really just started with all the boys, cause all the girls just loved him and they always defended him, but all the boys would say, “Geez you’re such a girl. Why are you hanging out with all those girls? What are you, a girl? Oh, you must be gay,” Tracy remembers.

“The bullies now are still walking around. They get to wake up tomorrow and go to school and see all their friends, but my son will not be given a second chance no matter how much I have prayed. I would have given my own life to turn back the minute we seen him,” Tracy says.

Jamey was harassed by online insults. He saw counselors to try to deal with the pain. He even took part in the “It Gets Better Project,” in which people have posted a video as part of an online support group for gay teens.

“We were born this way,” Jamey said in his video. “Now all you have to do is put your head up — put your head up and you’ll go far. Because that’s all you have to do, just love yourself and you’re set.”

Still, just weeks ago he posted this plea for help: “I always say how bullied I am, but no one listened. What do I have to do so people will listen to me?”
The Rodemeyers refuse to grieve in silence.

“They have to somehow get the power away from the bully, and I don’t know how you do that, and that’s the biggest question in my mind. Because, if the bully doesn’t have power, he’s nobody,” Tim Rodemeyer says. “For a young kid of 14 1/2, he had a big message, a huge message that shouldn’t even have to be a message. It should just be common decency to not make people feel worthless and useless on this planet, that they don’t deserve to be with other people,” Tracy Rodemeyer says.

Tracy Rodemeyer will bury her son in a t-shirt with a message of acceptance and defiance. It reads simply: “Born this way.”

By the time I had finished reading the article, I was so filled with rage, defeat, sadness, horror, and a real sense of being very ill at ease. This wasn’t something that had fired me up for one of my usual Facebook rants. This is far more serious and real and tragic. The story of Jamey Rodmeyer’s suicide is so incredibly sad, so unnecessary, and it would be so avoidable, if only the world could work harder towards changing from fear, dislike, judgment, and (sadly in some cases) hatred of others, to acceptance, compassion, inclusion and love.

This poor little kid – I’m stung that he took part in the ‘It get’s better’ campaign. It is a great campaign but someone his age shouldn’t have to be doing that. They shouldn’t be confronted with homophobia, either by direct bullying, or by subtle or subliminal means. The world should have been better to him, more kind, less cruel, less horrible.

I have a theory, and that is (just like the song in “Avenue Q” says) everyone is a little bit racist, homophobic, or any number of “Ist’s, Ic’s, Obes, Ism’s etc”. In my opinion, we all have these feelings within us somewhere – even just a small bit deep down. We must after thousands of years of programming and brainwashing by those with vested interests in judgment, and control of humanity.

It’s how we choose to deal with these feelings, and acknowledgement of these traits within us, that set us apart. We can choose to ignore, excuse and dismiss them, or we can recognize, try to rectify and change them, and move towards enlightenment and growth.

I wouldn’t dare to hold myself up as a paragon of virtue, not even close, but I feel the right path to take is to see these deep seeded feelings and thoughts for what they are – outdated, antiquated and not in step with, or healthy for society today.

For me, I feel the real damage is done by those with a public platform – the business leaders, politicians, Church leaders, those who have the public’s ear, and who choose to spew uninformed, uneducated, inaccurate, dangerous, harmful and mean spirited views, opinions and information.

That is why you will never see me supporting or voting for the Politician’s who choose to spew rhetoric from their lofty positions of misused power and influence, i don’t need to name names here, we all know them. Likewise you will never find me accepting, or attending the Churches of bigots who do not understand, or support total equality and acceptance for the GLBTIQ community.

Leaders, including buisness, political, Spiritual and community, should be leading and setting the example of compassion, inclusion and equality for all others to follow, instead, these are the very people who have blood on their hands.

I was recently asked about my support of ‘Movember’, a charity initiative who support “beyondblue” (an Australian Anti depression organization). The Director and Chairperson of beyondblue is Jeff Kennett, a man not known for his understanding or supportive statements of those in the GLBTIQ community. Under his leadership, beyondblue has been perceived by many in the GLBTIQ community until very recently, to lag behind in leadership of, and the targeting of GLBTIQ mental health issues, which statistically do not hold up well against those in the heterosexual community.

The Australian Bureau of statistics figures show that those in the GLBTIQ community suffer more than triple the rate of depression and related disorders than those in the heterosexual community, but still beyondblue are happy to have this person as their figurehead, their public face, even after he has made statements that at best can only be seen to be mean spirited, and counter productive to the emotional health and well being of those in the GLBTIQ community, many of whom would be amongst the most vulnerable in society to mental and emotional health issues. How can beyondblue justify his tenure as director when Mr Kennett refuses to appologise for, or rescind his harmful comments, when even as recently as last week he stated in his “Herald Sun” column …

“There is no substitute for parents of both genders,”

“Happy heterosexual marriages are the best environment for the mental health of children.”

Mr Kennett went on to say that during his 11-year leadership of beyondblue, he had become increasingly concerned that children starting out in primary school are already stressed and anxious as a direct result of learning patterns they observe from home.

“Clearly the best environment in which to bring a child into the world is a stable, loving environment in which a male and female are married to each other.”

There is no way in all good conscience I can ever support “beyondblue” as long as Jeff Kennett maintains any kind of role there of influence. These are the kinds of destructive, inaccurate and disempowering statements from people in positions of power, that cause all sorts of damage to those struggling in the GLBTIQ community. This is why I won’t be supporting beyondblue, or the “Movember” fundraising initiative.

Homophobes, like Racist’s cling to, and are empowered by one sliver of supposed justification from someone of authority, one thing, one statement, one word on which to hang their white cloaked hood.

As someone who has suffered at the hands of bullies and homophobes, and the most merciless bouts of depression, I’m sure some will say I’m cutting my nose off to spite my face. I don’t care. Sometimes the ends do not justify the means. It will be my small way – my chance – to have my voice heard and explain why I do not support this organization when I’m asked for support and donations.

Bullies and bullying are empowered by the irresponsible, inaccurate and harmful thoughts and words of people who should know better, and who should exercise their positions of power more responsibly (this I feel also stands for parents as well). For me it’s time to stop being complacent, to draw a line in the sand and state that voices, words and actions not supportive, encouraging and accepting of the GLBTIQ community are harmful, and must be challenged – because the world does not deserve to lose one more person – one more innocent child – to something so wrong as homophobia and bullying.

This article was written with the greatest respect to Jamey Rodemeyer’s life and memory.

2 Responses to “BORN THIS WAY:”

  1. Julie Vujic says:

    Dear Greg, my heart is aching because of Jamey’s years of pain, torture and suffering as well as the countless others who continue to suffer. How easy it is to forget these suffering people as we get swept along in our daily lives. What an incredibly passionate and moving writer you are Greg. Please keep using this gift you have to help people. Please use and give this story of Jamey and your powerful response to as many people as you can think of- internet, all media, politicians, Jeff Kennit, all churches, schools . . . . You could write about it – a novel for children to read and maybe study at school, short stories – get that message out there! You should be so proud of yourself – love Julie

  2. Tommy Truther says:

    Greg: Progress is slow and bullies are everywhere! Solid parenting can help esteem in kids- we all need a sense of who we are and where we’re from. Parents- sit and have dinner with your kids. Every night. Communicate. Bullies can be stopped, but a kid has to have people he can count on and rely on. Gay or straight. Love ya Swannie!

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