This is the second incident this month (April 2009) of a young man of color that killed himself because of anti-gay bullying. The first was an 11-year-old Massachusetts boy, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover. The second is eleven year old Jaheem Herrera hung himself last week and speculation suggests it was due to homophobic bullying.
Jaheem was bullied relentlessly, his family said. Keene said the family knew the boy was a target, but until his death they didn't understand the scope.
"We'd ask him, 'Jaheem, what's wrong with you?'" Keene recalled. "He'd never tell us." He didn't want his sister to tell, either. She witnessed much of the bullying, and many times rose to her brother's defense, Keene said.
"They called him gay and a snitch," his stepfather said. "All the time they'd call him this."
In an interview with WSB-TV, Bermudez also said her son was being bullied at school. She said she had complained to the school.
She said she asked him about the bullying Thursday when he came home from school and he denied it. She sent him to his room to calm down. It was the last time she would see him alive.
At what point do we start paying attention to kids that are being called "gay" as an epithet? It is never OK and no matter how much it is happening, it seems that our cultural fixation with masculinity and homophobia subsides. My heart goes out to his family, this is truly devastating.
Also check out GLSEN's 4-steps you can take to stop anti-LGBT bullying in your school.