Hayley Kiyoko, Ellen Page and other queer stars react in horror to gay nine-year-old boy’s suicide
LGBT+ celebrities including Hayley Kiyoko, Ellen Page and Laverne Cox have spoken out following the death of nine-year-old Jamel Myles, who died by suicide after suffering anti-gay bullying.
Jamel, who lived in Denver, Colorado, is believed to have killed himself just days after starting fourth grade at Joe Shoemaker Elementary School last week.
His family has said he was subjected to homophobic bullying from classmates prior to his death.
Jamel’s mother, Leia Rochelle Pierce, spoke out today in an interview with the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show, frequently sobbing as she said she felt “responsible because I didn’t see the pain in my baby’s eyes.”
The child’s death prompted an wave of outrage and empathy from queer stars including actress Ellen Page, who came out as a lesbian in 2014 and married her long-term partner earlier this year, tweeted: “The news re #JamelMyles broke my heart.
“I have traveled around the country & the world & have been witness 2 hope & joy but also deep pain & horror. This needs to change.
“I’m sad & angry but trying 2 keep my heart warm & open 2 continue 2 strive 2 help eradicate this suffering. ❤️”
Singer-songwriter Hayley Kiyoko, who last month said she knew she was gay when she was six years old, wrote: “This BREAKS MY HEART.
“People need to understand the power of their words. Wow. I’m so sorry for him and his family.”
Groundbreaking transgender actress and activist Laverne Cox said: “This has to stop happening. It just must stop.
“Our bullying culture is killing children.”
Music star Kehlani, who came out as queer earlier this year, wrote: “jamel myles’ confidence, pride, and eagerness to share his new found freedom with his parents and then classmates at 9 years old is beautiful and hope that is the memory celebrated continuously.
“Rest in peace little warrior,” she added. “The lessons here are clear.”
Steven Canals, co-creator of record-breaking show Pose, tweeted: “1989. 4th grade. 9 yrs old. First time a fellow male classmate shamed me by saying ‘stop being so gay.’
“I didn’t know who I was then. Jamel did. He was gay. And he was proud, until he wasn’t. My heart aches.”
Some reacted with understandable anger, like Daniel Newman, The Walking Dead actor who came out as gay last year.
He said: “#JamelMyles just killing himself at 9 years old after being bullied for coming out is all the proof you need that our fight against prejudice is as important today as ever!”
RuPaul’s Drag Race judge Michelle Visage wrote: “No. No way. This has GOT to stop. This poor baby.”
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And drag queen Vicky Vox tweeted: “I am in full tears! I know this Child’s pain. It is my own.
“I’m sick of this s**t. I’m living for you, #JamelMyles!!! This has to stop. Please!!! Children are [taught] to hate.
“We must teach them compassion. NINE YEARS OLD!!! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!”
UK-based readers who are affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact Samaritans on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org), or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). Readers in the US are encouraged to contact the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255