A 9-year-old Denver boy took his own life last week after homophobic bullying from his classmates, and celebrities and activists are mourning his death.
Jamel Myles, a fourth-grader at Shoemaker Elementary School, came out to his classmates on the first day of school, Aug. 20. His mother, Leia Pierce, told Denver TV station KDVR that he came out to her this summer and was scared of her response. “He was like, ‘Mom I’m gay.’ And I thought he was playing, so I looked back because I was driving, and he was all curled up, so scared. And I said, I still love you,” she said to KDVR.
After coming out to his classmates at the start of the school year, Myles reportedly faced cruel taunts from his peers for being gay. “Four days is all it took at school. I could just imagine what they said to him,” Pierce said. “My son told my oldest daughter the kids at school told him to kill himself. I’m just sad he didn’t come to me.”
The Denver Coroner’s Office ruled earlier this week that Myles died by suicide, reports The Denver Post.
Queer celebrities, activists and allies took to Twitter to express their condolences and outrage at the devastating loss. See some of the tweets below:
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.
the lessons here are clear.
— Kehlani (@Kehlani) August 28, 2018
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. ??
— Ellen Page (@EllenPage) August 28, 2018
No. No way. This has GOT to stop. This poor baby https://t.co/c98WTXtAjg
— michelle visage (@michellevisage) August 28, 2018
“Four days is all it took.” a 9yo boy died by suicide. bullied at school after coming out to his classmates. NINE years old. Bullying is never ok + suicide should never feel like the only answer. RIP jamel. condolences to his family. —-https://t.co/1hYamTb6sH
— Monica Lewinsky (@MonicaLewinsky) August 28, 2018
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. #JamelMyles https://t.co/Lp1i8n5KJb
— Steven Canals (@StevenCanals) August 28, 2018
This has to stop happening. It just must stop. Our bullying culture is killing children. #JamelMyles
“A 9-year-old boy died by suicide after being bullied for coming out as gay” https://t.co/BlrS7BqBxK
This BREAKS MY HEART. People need to understand the power of their words. Wow. I’m so sorry for him and his family. https://t.co/YTvQMPgsfB
— Hayley Kiyoko (@HayleyKiyoko) August 28, 2018
I am in full tears! I know this Child’s pain. It is my own. I’m sick of this shit. I’m living for you, #JamelMyles!!! This has to stop. Please!!! Children are taugh to hate. We must teach them compassion. NINE YEARS OLD!!! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! https://t.co/Of88vXtoG0
— VICKY VOX (@TheVickyVox) August 28, 2018
If you or a loved one are experiencing thoughts of suicide or other personal crises, there are safe, free resources available to guide you through difficult periods. Contact the Trevor Project‘s TrevorLifeLine at 1-866-488-7386, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK, or the Crisis Text Line at 741741.