When you see photos of Tyrone Unsworth’s innocent smiling face in the news, how can you feel anything but heartbroken?
I’m so devastated for this boy and his family.
Devastated that he felt so low about himself, so bullied, so unworthy, that he took his own life last week.
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He was only 13 years old and he committed suicide after “relentless” bullying for being gay, his mother told the media.
It makes me want to yell. I want to scream, loudly, “HOW IS THIS STILL HAPPENING IN 2016?”
How are we still cultivating a society that makes young teenagers feel ‘less than’ simply because of their sexual orientation?
Religious pundits claim that being gay is a choice and that the Safe Schools program somehow promotes children to become gay.
I disagree with this wholeheartedly, but even if it were true… Even if gay people did ‘choose’ to be attracted to the same sex…
Why does it matter to you? If you’re not gay, what impact does it have on you if others are?
Are they going to corrupt the fabric of society simply by existing?
That is the message that the anti-gay rhetoric promotes, in my view: that if you’re gay, you’re a sinner and if you sin, you’re bad news.
That is the message that Tyrone tragically took to heart. After all, as journalist Sally Rugg points out, “politicians, journalists and anti-LGBTIQ campaigners spent the final year of Tyrone’s life hysterically attacking Safe Schools”. When everyone around you is talking about how bad it is to be gay, how can you, as a 13-year-old, do anything else but internalise those feelings?
As I said, it makes me feel like screaming. But screaming isn’t going to help anyone; it’s certainly not going to help poor Tyrone now. I wish he knew how loved and important he was and how missed he is now.
And I hope the legacy he leaves behind is a much bigger conversation about gay rights in this country, because our kids deserve better than this.