Today’s New York Times reports the story of a Rutgers University Freshman who was “outed” by his roommate on Twitter. “I saw him making out with a dude. Yay,” he wrote. Three days later, the student jumped from the George Washington Bridge and committed suicide.
Of course, this story is very sad. A young man, Tyler Clementi, 18 years old, driven to commit suicide by the antics of two other freshman at the university. I weep for him and for all those who have struggled to come to terms with who they are and who they love.
Equally potent, however, is my rage at the actions of the roommate and his female friend. They invaded Tyler’s privacy by observing him kissing another man via a webcam in his dorm room and then posted it on the web. They had no right to act so viciously, so callously, so criminally. They had no right to destroy this young man and to take away his promising future.
In my view, the media plays a role here too. Every time they repeat (and repeat and repeat) anti-gay comments from public figures or “man on the street” interviews, they give license to others to say similar things. It is time for them to take a stand and call those comments what they are – examples of bigotry and hatred.
Tyler’s story reminds us all that the fight for equality is far from over, that we still have a long way to go before LGBT family and friends are completely embraced by all. I’m in this for the long haul. Can I count on you?