Open Thread: RIP Jamie Hubley
This is probably the last video uploaded by the late Jamie Hubley, a gay teenager who'd committed suicide two years ago today after being mercilessly bullied by homophobes in Kanata, Canada. Here, he's covering "Rehab" by another self-doomed soul, Amy Winehouse. Jamie would be 17 today, 18 next month. I wrote about him in a disjointed, rambling post two years ago when I first heard the news of his suicide on Facebook and, if anything, his death bothers me at least as much now as it did two years ago. In case you've never heard his story before, Jamie was the only openly gay boy in his high school and, to him, waiting a full year before the next Pride event in his area and enduring three more years of high school was more and more unthinkable and undo-able. While other Canadian boys were obsessed with hockey, Jamie was interested in figure skating. And he was bullied to the point where one day he stole a bottle of sleeping pills and went somewhere to do the unthinkable.
Even in a year marred by a rash of teen suicides, many of them young LGBT people, Jamie's stood out because of his growing talent for singing, sheer magnetism and physical beauty. And seeing this video and others he'd uploaded, seeing the bubbly exterior and knowing he came from a loving, supportive family makes his suicide all the more intolerable, inexplicable and downright frightening. Two days before his death on Saturday, October 14th 2011, he'd pulled himself together long enough to appear with his high school glee club one last time. Jamie was seeing a psychiatrist, was on medications and had a loving circle of family and friends.
And, before anyone knew what was happening, he was gone forever.
Speaking as a male bisexual who understands all too well how isolated and unsupported we are living in a small community with no support network and afforded no easy answers or solutions for the angst to which society unfairly subjects us, I am heartily sick and tired of hearing about gay people, especially teenagers, who were victimized literally to death. I do not want to see any more Jamie Hubleys and Alan Schindlers and Matthew Shepards laid into the ground.
Not long after Jamie's suicide, I bought five rainbow-colored bracelets from an organization in Ottawa that were manufactured in his memory, that say "Acceptance" on one side and "R.I.P. Jamie Hubley" on the other. I've never taken mine off for even so much as a nanosecond since the day they arrived in the mail out of respect for his memory but somehow that doesn't seem enough.
And were we to forget Jamie's nearly unrealized legacy, one realized for all the wrong reasons, then we diminish our humanity, our human compassion for people like Jamie in particular and in the abstract. And all I have are my words, written in the most perishable of all mediums, to continue to honor this sweet but doomed child's memory.
October 11th, this past Friday, was National Coming Out Day. We shouldn't need a special day to come as if it's a little more legitimate to do so than the other 364 days of the year. We shouldn't have to make "It Gets Better" videos that sometimes don't work (Jamie Hubley was proof of that) and congratulate our sons and daughters as they come out to their families and friends.
One's sexual orientation should simply be a matter of fact, something with which we're born and least able to change than anything encoded into our DNA. We can change our hair, eye and even skin color, we can change our faces, our waistlines, even our very height. But while we can temporarily repress it or ignore it, we cannot change our sexual orientation.
And it seems the human race collectively cannot change its reactionary bias and fear and loathing of people like me who are attracted to our own gender. We shouldn't need heroes and martyrs for doing what is right yet here we are.
And, because of our stupid and ignorant bias against LGBT people, even the youngest of us who desperately need to be supported starting with their families, Jamie was a hero. You cannot possibly convince me he was the only gay boy in his school. There must have been others but they chose to live inside their cowardice and make him dangle out there alone. And they'll have to live with that for the rest of their lives.
But if you're still in the closet and are young and reading these words either now or years into the future, take comfort in the fact that this deeply-flawed, long-closeted but compassionate bisexual guy has your back. I cannot promise you, as the ad campaign says, that it will get better. You shouldn't need October 11th to be courageous and a hero like Jamie was. But that is the definition of a hero, or at least, mine: Someone we shouldn't need but get anyway because doing the right thing is the only option. Heroes are what we get in spite of what society wants or dictates.
No, sometimes it doesn't get better but sometimes it does. But unless you are true to yourself and your loved ones, those who will love you regardless, it never will get better.