In the fall of 2010, 18-year-old Tyler Clementi left home to attend Rutgers College. At the time he was just beginning to come out of the closet. One evening, shortly after arriving, he asked his roommate for privacy. Unknown to Tyler, the roommate aimed his computer’s camera at Tyler’s bed and live-streamed him in an intimate act with another man. A few days later, unable to cope with the subsequent humiliation and ridicule, Tyler ended his life.
Attempting to respond to her son’s death, his mother, Jane Clementi, worked to create the Tyler Clementi Foundation, which seeks to combat all bullying. While the reality of her son having been the victim of cyber-bullying dominated news reports of the suicide, Jane began to consider the role of Tyler’s upbringing in a conservative Christian church-which taught that homosexuality is a sin-in shaping the shame and inner conflict that led to his suicide.
In this episode, Jane Clementi and AFC Founder Carl Siciliano discuss Jane’s devastation at the loss of her son, and the journey of faith which led her to take a stand against all forms of bullying. We especially focus on the endangerment and abuse done to LGBTQ youths by church teachings which shame and reject LGBTQ people, and explore ways to respond to and combat that harm.
You can listen to the podcast below: