An Anonymous Ode to Jamie Hubley and the evils of Homophobia & Bullying – October 21, 2011 – Cornwall Ontario

An Anonymous Ode to Jamie Hubley and the evils of Homophobia & Bullying – October 21, 2011 – Cornwall Ontario
The late Jamie Hubley
CFN –   The following submission was submitted to us on the grounds that we would not disclose the name of its author.  Even in this day and age old fears linger.   Is this the society we truly want for ourselves and our children?
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The tragic death of 15-year-old Jamie Hubley of Ottawa has been prominent in the news this week. The cause of death is officially recorded as suicide, but really it was nothing short of murder. The motive for this murder? Honesty. He admitted to being slightly different from other folks, a member of a minority. He was gay. He didn’t try to hide it. But by being gay, he posed such an insurmountable threat to some of the other students at his school that they had to bully him to death, to preserve their own integrity and sexuality.
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Just last summer I was thinking about how relatively easy it is to be gay today. It has become at least semi-OK to admit one’s sexuality, the genetics you inherited from your parents and were born with, over which you has no control. Times were finally changing, or so I thought.
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I was wrong.  Although many teens are now more open about their sexuality, life is certainly no easier now than it was in my day.   As a teen, I had to be very quiet about my identity. I didn’t understand what was happening to me, because there was no such thing as honest sex education in schools then, and going to a Catholic school, what little there was was severely diluted. Any serious or factual talk about homosexuality was unknown. School kids would refer disparagingly to someone as a “bloody homo,” but that was it. There was nothing in the newspapers, nothing on radio or TV, no internet, nothing. Maybe the idea was that if one didn’t ever talk about it, it would either go away, or stay securely locked in a dark closet. All I knew was that I liked another boy, and had no particular desire to have sex with a girl. I was totally alone in the world, truly a stranger in a strange land, a unique, one-of-a-kind perverted misfit, society’s garbage.
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I couldn’t even tell my best friend in case anyone found out, because I would have been killed. I can’t honestly say that I loved this boy, but he really was my best friend, we could talk about just about anything, his parents liked me, mine liked him. Had I known at the time that he was almost certainly gay too, with the same paralysing fears as me, maybe life would have been different. But we knew nothing about sexuality of any kind in those days, so how could we ever talk about something we didn’t even know existed?
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If I could be fifteen again, and go to high school, knowing what I know now, would I admit to being gay? Until I heard the news about Jamie Hubley last Friday, the answer would have been yes. Asking myself the same question today, a few hours after Jamie’s funeral, the only honest answer would have to be I don’t know.
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I know all about bullies, from both sides. I was bullied mercilessly from first grade to graduation. I had a lot going against me, stuff like ADHD, which must have made life really hard for my grade 1 teacher, whom I loved. I was also extremely bright. These days, I would be labelled as “gifted.” Even as a five-year-old, I could read fluently, with very little help. Maybe if I’d been a little less gifted, or a little more gifted, life would have been different. As it was, I was smarter than a fifth-grader, but not smart enough to shut up about it. Another boy’s parents, who knew mine, were jealous of my success, because they thought it should have been their son in my place. They bullied him without mercy to succeed, as only immigrants can. In the end, the poor boy didn’t know what to do, but being popular at school, he got together a little gang of his young friends, throwing me down a flight of stairs, beating me up, and giving me a concussion.
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When I was nine, I was in a school where two of the teachers were absolute bitches. I’m sure Pink Floyd, in their portrayal of the “mad and psychopathic [teachers’ wives] who would beat them within inches of their lives” took their inspiration from these two. The grade 2 teacher (luckily I never had her) would take it upon herself to parade some hapless boy on whom she’d found a louse throughout the whole school. Her “twin” hated everyone, but especially me. I was her special target. Under her teaching, I forgot how to read and write. I did actually learn from her, however. I learned a fear of math, and the sure certainty that there is a hell, here and in the afterlife. She created one for me, and I just know in my heart she is in it now.
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But she taught me something else as well, something for which I am deeply ashamed. If I had the chance to go back in time and right some of the wrongs I have done, this would be the first. She taught me the feeling of power and triumph that comes with being a bully.
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There was another boy in my class, one of the smallest, quiet, and highly intelligent. My own life was so low that I beat the hell out of him one afternoon, on the way home from school. I wasn’t thinking of the consequences, I wasn’t old or mature enough to understand how he would feel. I was just so powerless and overwhelmed myself that I needed to get even.
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I got lucky that night, because I’d picked on the right boy. When the boy’s father came to our house later that evening, I think his son must have told him something of my story, how my life was hell, because he convinced my parents to be very careful how they handled this situation. My parents didn’t beat the shit out of me, as I probably deserved. Instead, they made me see that I had done wrong, and made me apologize and understand how this other boy must have felt. As time went on, my parents and his became life-long friends, and we became good friends.
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Do any of Jamie Hubley’s bullies have parents like mine? I doubt it. Instead they’ll be out defending their little bastards, who, at their age, are old enough to know better. They’ll tell everyone who’ll listen how threatened and insecure their child felt because Jamie was gay, and how kids like Jamie are going to bring down all our cherished Canadian values and Christian institutions.    In high school the bullying was even worse. Other kids would call me gay, or worse. I was regularly beaten up. When I was about fourteen or fifteen, another kid shot at me with an air rifle (luckily he missed). There was a whole culture of bullying at my high school, which, while they didn’t actively condone it, the administration did nothing to stop. There was only one priest there who ever tried genuinely to help me, and God Bless him, we remained friends until he died a few years ago.
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One day, on a Friday afternoon towards the end of the school day, I was surrounded by about half a dozen or so of the bullies. I blew up. I totally went berserk, and I beat the living daylights out of one of them. When I was sent to the principal’s office, he wanted to punish me for getting in a fight by giving me another beating (legally – it was called corporal punishment, now mercifully illegal). He seemed to forget all the black eyes I’d had, the bruises that covered my body for weeks at a time, the number of bike tires slashed, the homework assignments stolen, the list goes on. I believe I lost my temper again, because I must have said something right for once. I did not get yet another beating, the bullying stopped, and I even got into another class, that I had wanted to be in for four years, with my friends and away from the bullies.
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Did I do the right thing? Violence is not a good solution, but for me, it was the only way out. Not even my parents could do anything about the problem. Most importantly, it gave me some reason to carry on, and not kill myself.
I said earlier that the parents of Jamie’s bullies will do everything to protect and excuse them. That’s a broad statement, but it’s well thought out. The question is why will they protect their little bastards, other than the natural instinct of a parent to protect its child? The answer is, society and our leaders tell us it’s OK to go gay bashing.
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n Cornwall, we have “Pastor” Tom Newton, a smug little hypocrite who is obviously filled with massive amounts of self-loathing, which he spews onto everyone he hates. He has no logic, he cannot back up any of what he says with facts. All he can do is quote scripture, out of context. He can’t debate, argue, or defend his position, all he can do is Google his bible. He pretends to be a leader, and unfortunately, in the name of free speech, the local media give him a soap box and a certain amount of credibility by allowing him to call himself a minister.
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In the last provincial election, Tim Hudak tried to legitimise these bullies and their parents, with a homophobic pamphlet designed to cause fear. Taking a few phrases wildly out of context (he’s even better than the pastor in this regard), he tried to convince voters that the Toronto School Board and the McGuinty Government were hell-bent on turning their children gay.   One of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s campaign points was that his main rival, George Smitherman, was gay.
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In such a climate, is it really surprising that homophobia, organized or not, still exists and influences people who lack either the ability or desire to see the real truth? It gets pushed upon us, quietly and underhandedly, in a way that breaks no law, by the very people we allow to lead us.
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We imprison people who deny the truth about the Nazi Holocaust, because such denial is the first step to having history repeat itself. So why do we allow people to subtly influence others, for their own selfish and fearful agendas, to bully, hurt, and sometimes kill innocent people like Jamie? Maybe we can’t realistically shut them up, but do we have to give them a platform? Maybe that’s what we need, as a society, to debate: do we sanction the persecution of an innocent kid, who only wanted to love and be loved, or do we stop those who encourage the hatred?
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Jamie Hubley was intelligent, he had guts, he was loved and accepted by his family, and accepted everyone else. He had everything to live for, and would no doubt have overcome his problems. But the bullies, and a society that allows and encourages them, took that away from him, They took him away from his family, his friends, and from a boy who would have accepted and returned his love.
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Late this afternoon, just a few hours after Jamie’s funeral, the sun came out, creating a perfect rainbow, solid and bright, the colors even and distinct, from horizon to horizon. The “Pastor” will no doubt spout more of his evil at this suggestion, but I believe it is a sign that Jamie is now happy in heaven, with the God who made and always loved him. Why wasn’t he allowed to experience some degree of happiness here, in this life?
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Team Cornwall

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