Jamie Hubley

Jamie Hubley

Jamie Hubley and Mitchell WilsonWhen I saw the text and photo at the top of yesterday's Toronto Star something inside me broke. It's happened again. We lost a young person that should've had years and years left to shine and we lost them not to accident or disease, not to something that couldn't have been helped. We lost fifteen-year-old Jamie Hubley, just like we lost eleven-year-old Mitchell Wilson and countless others before him, because he was relentlessly tormented by his peers to the degree that not living another day seemed like a better option.

There's a Japanese proverb that goes, “The nail that sticks up gets hammered down.” This seems to be truer in our schools than it is almost anywhere else in our society. Schools should not be something that have to be survived, places where our young people have to twist themselves out of shape to avoid standing out.

Jamie Hubley was a kid I would've liked and one my fifteen-year-old self would've liked—a young man who loved music and singing, who preferred figure skating to hockey and who tried to make his school a better, more accepting place by starting a rainbow club. One of Jamie's friends had this to say about him, "It's hard to describe him in one sentence. I couldn't even describe him in a novel. He was so colourful. My favourite thing about him was how he would put his problems aside for others -- put everybody else first and then worry about himself later."

Jamie was the only open gay guy at his Ottawa high school. Imagine the kind of guts that takes, especially at just fifteen. By all accounts, Jamie had guts, heart and talent in spades. The world needs more of all of these things and I'm sad for Jamie and sad for all of us who are left in a place that is a dimmer in his absence.

It's hard for me not to hate the bullies who in seventh grade tried to stuff batteries down Jamie's throat on the school bus because he was a figure skater, hard for me not to hate the kids who tore down his rainbow alliance posters and the people who called him "fag." But I know hate isn't the answer. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

So if you see these horrible things happening at your school, or wherever you may be, don't let hate accumulate, unchallenged. I know there are situations where it may not feel safe to challenge the haters then and there. But you can tell someone afterwards. A teacher, a parent, a guidance counsellor, someone. And you can tell the person you saw or heard being bullied that you don't share the bullies' feelings. Anyone being bullied needs to know that they're not alone. Anyone bullying others (either emotionally or physically) needs to know it will not be tolerated. You need to stop. Right now. It's not funny and it's not okay. It doesn't make you a more powerful person. It diminishes you and when we let it continue it diminishes all of us.

None of us can afford to be bystanders. People's lives are at stake.

Meet Jamie Hubley. He was what one of his idols, Katy Perry, would've undoubtedly called a "firework". I won't let myself hate the people that made Jamie feel less than that but I will forever hate that we are without his light.

Next Post Newer Post Previous Post Older Post Home