Tyler Clementi and Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover: A Year Later and Nothing’s Changed

By Seattle Slim

In April of 2009, Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover (click here for more) committed suicide after being taunted and tortured for allegedly being “gay” in Massachusetts.  He was only 11 years old.  There was some attention, and the world seemed to be intrigued, but it was mostly gay publications that picked up the story and really followed up with it, aside from my blog.

 I knew in my heart of hearts, that a black, male child who had committed suicide for kids teasing him for supposedly being gay would eventually fizzle out, but hoped that it would spurn people to make a few changes.   I hoped that it would get the attention required to maybe bring this new type of bullying to the forefront, but that didn’t work because last month, several teens committed suicide due to bullying, especially that of the homophobic kind.

There has been some awareness raised by Carl’s death, but we obviously didn’t seem to do what we were supposed to do because we’ve come to a head with the death of several teens, one of which is Tyler Clementi.  My heart is broken for Tyler.  As a victim of bullying, I can empathize with all of the teens, but I can’t imagine being bullied for being gay AND living a lower socioeconomic status.

Matter of fact, being bullied for being gay is more vitriolic because one cannot change who they love, but they can change their money situation more often than not.  Why are these kids ending their lives?  Can you imagine the loneliness and desperation someone must have felt to actually go through with that?

I’m mad because had we mobilized with Carl’s death, perhaps these other young lives could’ve been saved.  This country’s total disregard for people of color, particularly children of color, is alarming and the repercussions are evident in the case of Tyler Clementi and the other teens. 

Okay, now we’ve come full circle.  A student with enough capital to attend Rutgers committed suicide after being bullied or victimized for being gay.  Is the message loud enough now?