I spent most of the other night tracing back through Jamey Rodemeyer’s Twitter account. (“Misguided Jamey”) to see whether I could find some clues as to what actually happened with him in his last year on this planet. I already had from his Tumblr blog (“Ready For Those Flashing Lights”- the gaudy images of Lady Gaga flashing away in an eternal silence now, having been irrevocably punctuated by that poignant full stop final message to her sent by phone (before he leaped into eternity?)) a rough idea but I needed to fill in so many gaps.
Of the three lads I have mentioned here, Rodemeyer’s tragedy remains the most easy to assimilate. Hubley’s blog was deleted and his Twitter stopped months before he also jumped into the unknown. Poor Philip Parker seems to have had no online prescence at all.
I am not sure what I hoped to achieve through all this relentless emotional masochism but when you get hit in the guts as badly as I have been over this you need to be able to rationalize. The image of a 14 year old kid showing the self inflicted wounds in his arms is not something you can simply accept and walk away from without wanting to know why and how and what the fuck?
Rodemeyer joined Tumblr at the end of 2010 and almost the third post he made there was a cry for help because he was feeling on the verge of suicide. So it is not so much of a shock as it first seemed. According to his videos he had (under the influence of Lady Gaga) announced he was gay on his Facebook profile. That fact alone makes me either marvel at his incredible courage or boggle at his naivety and innocence. I prefer the former option as thinking about the latter just makes me want to weep. Presumably this led to the hurricane that was eventually going to engulf him altogether.
The self harming aspect forms a dark undercurrent to his Twitter account. He talks about it having become a nocturnal addiction way before he posted that last video. He is constantly being told by friends that they hate to think of somebody as beautiful as him doing that to himself and he promises that he will try and stop it on their account. He seems to have succeeded for a while, bouyed up by the support of somebody on there who he confides in privately on a regular basis. His public posts say how much he loves this guy and just how many times he has saved his life. At one point he wistfully comments about how much he wanted to ask another gay guy at a function to dance with him but couldn’t find the courage. His Tumblr account too, is full of these wistful yearnings that are all too familiar with me. Even near the end he says he thinks he has found a gay senior guy who seems to like him and wonders whether he would ever ask him out or not.
The Twitter account also suggests there were additional factors involved. He lost a close female friend in a car accident in June and his Grandmother died shortly afterwards. It is significant that the penultimate message he sent to Tumblr was about simply wanting to see them both again. It seems from comments he makes on both Tumblr and Twitter that his immediate family found his being gay difficult to deal with. He tells his confidante that he wishes there was some way he could get his mother to understand his situation and that being gay was not some choice he’d made for the sake of it. At this point he posted a photo of himself holding up a hand written sign saying “If Lady Gaga accepts me, why can’t you?” Later on (on Tumblr) he reports that (presumably during a domestic row) his parents told him they wished they’d never had him. Now I have had similar things said to me in heat of the moment situations but it seems, in this case, they were taken to heart alongside all the other crap he was getting. (His Tumblr reports that during his final week at school he was given a Brownie by somebody. After he’d eaten it, he was told it had been spat on by various people. He laughs it off, of course.) A pretty heady and toxic brew indeed.
The other thing I noted was the number of times he asked people to pray for him and how he told others he was praying for them. He was clearly somebody of faith. It makes the “renunciation” of the night before he died even more poignant. Ironic given that it was people of faith who were kicking the psychological shit out of him at the same time.
The thing that struck me most, however, and what also conveys itself in his youtube videos is what a lovely, warm, funny person he was. He had a heart of absolute gold. That fact itself depresses me most. It indicates that it doesn’t matter to the world in general what kind of person you are, everything rests on your ability to fuck girls. If you can’t do that everything else is irrelevant and you are “better off dead”. My misanthropic outlook shelters me from the implications somewhat. I don’t consider humanity in general able to ascend to beyond swamp life level anyway so I cannot say I am too surprised. But it still hurts to recognize it affecting other people in this way.
I guess I will never be able to fathom the full reasons why Jamey Timothy Rodemeyer of Buffalo New York decided to take his own life by hanging on 18th Sept 2011 at the age of 14. But I can see as much of the puzzle that can be fitted together and extrapolate from there based on my own experiences.
I don’t want to think of him as that poor little kid choking back tears on a video as he shows the self inflicted wounds on his arms five days before he took his final journey. I’d like to think of his head peering down through the clouds looking at the Gay Marriage stuff he campaigned for so bravely coming to fruition, the number of people who have set up anti-bullying and child suicide campaigns in his name. I want to think of him smiling and laughing and celebrating at what he has helped bring to pass. I want to think of him cheering us on from the sidelines, standing hand in hand with Jamie Hubley, Phillip Parker and the rest of those beautiful souls driven into the grave by ignorance, bigotry and stupidity. Standing there and rejoicing that it is indeed “getting better”.
“Do not stand at my grave and cry. I am not there. I did not die.”