Jamey Rodemeyer died on September 18, 2011 after he committed suicide due to the constant bullying that he received as a result of his being gay. He is another young man in a long line of bullying victims. Jamey was well known for his activism against homophobia and for his YouTube videos dedicated to bullying victims.
Jamey and his family lived near Buffalo, New York. He went to Heim Middle School and was a freshman at Williamsville North High School when he died.
Jamey received much of his inspiration to help bullying victims from Lady Gaga and he often cited her music lyrics in his YouTube videos.
Jamey dealt with a majority of the bullying incidents while he was still in middle school. He had a Formspring account where people would post anonymous messages. One such message said, “I wouldn’t care if you died. No one would. So just do it. It would make everyone WAY more happier!” Another post said, “JAMIE IS STUPID, GAY, FAT AND UGLY. HE MUST DIE!” Jamey would use these types of hate post in his videos to help those who were in the same situations.
On Tumblr Jamey posted, “No one in my school cares about preventing suicide, while you’re the ones calling me (a gay slur) and tearing me down.” The next day he wrote, “I always say how bullied I am, but no one listens. What do I have to do so people will listen to me?”
On September 18, 2011, Jamey decided to end his life by hanging himself and he was discovered by his sister. His final tweet was to Lady Gaga and it read, “@ladygaga bye mother monster, thank you for all you have done, paws up forever.”
After his death, Amherst police decided to do a criminal investigation which lasted nine weeks. During the investigation the police did analysis of Jamey’s home computer and mobile phone records. There was some evidence of criminal harassment, but there was not enough evidence to bring charges or statute of limitations was up.
The students who participated in the bullying were suspended after the criminal investigations. Superintendent Scott Martzloff said, “The police shared some information with us, and we followed up.” He would not say who or how many were suspended. The suspensions lasted five days.
Amherst Police Chief told the media “I would have liked to have arrested someone for this…but we can’t make a case when the proof necessary to prosecute it isn’t there.”
The news of his death and that it was a result of being a bullying victim went worldwide. There was a lot of outrage by Jamey’s supporters and they wanted answers. His parents were interviewed by multiple television stations and they wanted to help promote equality and prevent similar things from happening. In an interview with WIVB, Jamey’s dad said, “To the kids who are bullying they have to realize that words are very powerful and what you think is just fun and games isn’t to some people, and you are destroying a lot of lives.” His mom told NBC that “It took him away from our family way too early and we’re just convinced that he had a purpose on this planet and it was to touch as many people as he could.”
Jamey Rodemeyer‘s parents did everything they could to help him cope with being a bullying victim. He was receiving counseling and they were also working with the school to try and stop the bullying. They said that Jamey seemed happy in the days leading up to his death.
Even though Jamey was dead, the bullying was still continuing, not only towards him but also his sister. At a school dance that his sister went to a Lady Gaga song was being played and Jamey’s friends start to chant his name to show their support. At the same time the school bullies started to chant that they were glad that he was dead.
His death happened to be on the same day that a national summit was held in Washington D.C. The goal of this summit was to be able to figure out how to help those who were bullying victims.
The parents of Justin Aaberg, a 15 year old from Minnesota who hung himself after being a bullying victim because he was gay, spoke at the summit. They said that “school systems need to do more to protect LGBT students from bullying and not turn their back on them because of their sexual orientation.”
Malcolm Lazin, who founded the Equality Forum, said, “Jamey’s suicide is a tragic reminder of the vulnerability of gay teens. They are bullied and marginalized. While some may say that Jamey took his life, it is unrelenting homophobia that murdered him.”
When Lady Gaga learned that Jamey had killed himself was extremely upset and devastated by the news. She went to twitter to voice her outrage, “Bullying must become illegal. It is a hate crime.” She also tweeted, “I am meeting with our President. I will not stop fighting. This must end. Our generation has the power to end it. Trend it #MakeALawForJamey.” While performing at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas she sang her song Hair and dedicated it to Jamey. She said, “I wrote this record about how your identity is really all you’ve got when you’re in school…so tonight, Jamey, I know you’re up there looking at us and you’re not a victim. You’re a lesson to all of us. I know it’s a bit of a downer, but sometimes the right thing is more important than the music.”
Miss New York Kaitlin Monte start an online petition to bring the cyber bullying issue, called Jamey’s Law, to the New York legislators.
Zachary Quinto, who plays Spock in the latest Star Trek movies, said that Jamey’s death helped him to make the decision to publicly announce that he was gay. He said on his website, “but in light of Jamey’s death-it became clear to me in an instant that living a gay life without publicly acknowledging it – is simply not enough to make any significant contribution to the immense work that lies ahead on the road to complete equality.”
Glee, the popular TV show on Fox, referred to Jamey when Finn spoke to Santana about gay suicide in the episode I Kissed a Girl.
An American metal core band called The Bella Donna released a song based on his death called Don’t Jump. The song has Jamey’s friends quoting Jamey and saying how they miss him; the video has been posted on YouTube.
Also on March 27, 2013, The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Student Alliance, GLASS, of the Niagara County Community College supported a performance of Bullying is a Drag in honor to Jamey. It was free to the public and had a number of drag queens from the Buffalo area as the entertainment.
The national statistics show that 28 percent of students from ages 12 to 18 have reported that they have been bullying victims in school during 2008-2009. It also shows that bullying decreases as the children become older. The high is 39 percent for sixth graders down to 20 percent for high school seniors.
Unfortunately the numbers of LGBT students that are bullying victims have remained the same from 1999 to 2009 according to the National Climate Survey done by GLSEN. Parents and teachers say that there are not enough resources and support groups at schools for LGBT students. Daryl Presgraves, a spokesman for GLSEN said, “We have seen some positive sign in available resources and supportive educator and society is moving in a good direction. But it’s still very difficult to be an LGBT youth in school.
Dan Savage, a columnist, created the It Gets Better project. He said, speaking of those who bullied Jamey, that they need to answer “for their actions, for their hate, for the harm they’ve cause. 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.”
Savage started the project after he found out about the high number of LGBT teens that have committed suicide. He wants to give adults the opportunity to let bullied kids now that their lives will get better. He said of his project, “The point of the It Gets Better project is to give kids like Jamey Rodemeyer hope for their futures. But sometimes hope isn’t enough. Sometimes the damage is done by hate and by haters is simply too great. Sometimes the future seems too remote. And those are the times that our hearts break.”
One of Jamey’s last posts said, “Love yourself and you’re set…I promise you, it will get better.” It did not get better for Jamey, but hopefully for someone out there who is a bullying victim it will.