An investigation by former Al Jazeera and CNN correspondent Jonathan Gravenor
Tyrone Unsworth spent most of his life scared – scared to death by how other people saw him, this week he ended his fear by taking his own life at just 13 years old.
It would seem that even now in 2016 it still is a crime to be Gay or least seen as being Gay. The sentence the same as it has been for decades, to be ostracized, publicly shamed and beaten.
We have conveniently named it Bullying, a softer word than actually describes the evil intent it involves.
His mother says since he was little other kids called him gay-boy, faggot and fairy because he was different. Somehow barraged by the viciousness he still had dreams, his favorite was becoming a vet so he could heal sick animals.
As he grew so did the voracity of anger against him – recently the bullying escalated to being hit with a fence post. Hospitalized the physical wounds were mended but we can never know the extent of the terror that remained.
So many people now are saying they knew too little, or didn’t understand how serious it was. Police say they are investigating the beating. We will watch so we can exact some revenge when a perpetrator is caught. We no doubt will find out that another child who was egged on by societal norms will be made to account for young Tyrone’s death.
But the truth is who-ever is caught for beating Tyrone isn’t the one to blame. The fault is all of ours.
In the past year hate crimes have escalated all over the world – it would seem our leaders and I mean all our leaders like to use the convenience of easy targets to shift the focus from their failures to others who don’t fit the norm.
But it’s not the leaders we need to point the finger at – it is that person who stares at us each time we look in the mirror. How many times have I made gay jokes, black jokes, women jokes or any joke that demeaned someone different than me?
Worse yet, when have I heard one of those jokes, and wondered should I laugh or confront. Even at times when I knew it was crude and hateful, I remained tight lipped, scared to offend the person making the repugnant statement. How crudely ironic to see an entire group of people belittled – because I didn’t want to offend a homophobe, a racist or misogynist.
It would seem as I stood by protecting those who don’t deserve protecting – innocent victims like Tyrone were left to defend themselves.
After the beating Tyrone was changed according to his grandmother. He didn’t want to go back to school, he didn’t want to hurt anymore she said.
I sit here unable to comprehend that a kind loving child spent the last days of his life feeling like he was cornered and with the only way out – suicide.
Somehow I want to write something so profound that it changes everything, and from this moment on young boys and girls need not feel the wrath of hatred that we have made normal. But I can’t because I am losing hope, for you, for me, for us.
French Writer Anaïs Nin wrote “Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.”
Maybe that’s it, maybe we all are tarnished and I am weary.