I woke this morning to this heartbreaking news. A 15-year-old boy in Ottawa killed himself, because of the struggles of being gay in high school.
If you don’t want to cry this morning, don’t read the story, just add Jamie Hubley to the increasingly long list of such publicised suicides (and remember that there are many, many more that never are publicised), and reduce it to a stat rather than a tragedy. I was tempted to do the same.
But I read the article, and I cried this morning, and what struck me most was that this boy, this 15-year-old guy who was so brave that he could be out of the closet when he was 15… was in some ways a lot like me.
“From the outside, he looked like the happiest kid. He was always smiling and giving everybody hugs in the halls…”
…She said all that Jamie wanted was what every teenager wants — somebody to love.“I just remember him wanting a boyfriend so bad, he’d always ask me to find a boy for him. I think he wanted someone to love him for who he was,” she said.
…“I hate being the only open gay guy in my school … It fucking sucks, I really want to end it,” he wrote.
Yep. That it does.
I wasn’t quite the only gay guy in my high school, but I also was barely out of the closet. I found it hard to relate to very openly gay people, still. And it was still a school of 2000 people, and though there was (in later years) a GSA and outspoken support, it was the quiet, entrenched feeling of homophobia that pervaded. I didn’t want to be caught near the GSA, lest someone watching assume I was gay (as I said, barely out of the closet, and only in my last year). It was an Ontario suburb, conservative middle-upper class.
Jamie had struggled with depression in the past — Wheeler said she’d talked him out of committing suicide several times — but despite how he felt on the inside, Jamie often put a smile on his face, setting aside his own pain for others.
“Even though he was feeling down all the time, he always made everybody else feel better,” she said.
Like Jamie, I was desperate for someone to love, someone who would love me back. I don’t know that I was clinically depressed — I’ve never been to a psychiatrist for diagnosis — but I was certainly depressed. And like Jamie, I tried to never let it show. It didn’t stop me from enjoying the day to day — I smiled, I laughed, I had amazing friends — but the memory of the depression stands out, overtop of all that.
But I’m blessed, I suppose, with a strong will, and an almost unfailing optimism for life. I have always carried an immense hope for the future. I have never even contemplated suicide, however much pain I’ve been it — my brain just doesn’t seem wired to consider it an option.
But for brain chemistry, maybe I would have been Jamie, I don’t know. But for hope, maybe he could still be with us, happy, laughing, loving.
Fuck. I wish I could have spoken to this kid.