CHICAGO (CBS) – Several gay rights organizations in Chicago are planning a candlelight vigil Friday night in memory of nine teens.
The teens all committed suicide after being bullied because they were gay.
The vigil is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on the DePaul University quadrangle, near Fullerton and Seminary avenues.
The vigil honors the memory of Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi, 18. He jumped off the George Washington Bridge between New York and New Jersey, after his roommate and another student broadcast video on the Internet of Tyler having sex with another man.
He was one of nine teenagers who recently took their own lives in recent weeks after being subjected to anti-gay bullying. The others are Asher Brown, 13, of Harris County, Texas; Seth Walsh, 13, of Tehachapi, Calif.; Justin Aaberg, 15, of Anoka County, Minn.; Billy Lucas, 15, of Greensburg, Ind.; Caleb Nolt, 14, of Fort Wayne, Ind.; Cody J. Barker, 17, of Shiocton, Wis.; Harrison Chase Brown, 15, of Rand, Colo.; and Raymond Chase, 19, who attended Johnson & Wales College in Providence, R.I.
While none of the teens was from Chicago, the headlines about their suicides resonated with the local LGBT community, the Windy City Times reported.
The newspaper said Shannon Sullivan, executive director of the Illinois Safe School Alliance, reported that last year, there were reports of at least two cases of children as young as 11 committing suicide for reasons stemming from anti-gay bullying.
Also in response to the recent suicides, several local LGBT community members turned out for a group video-making session for sex advice columnist and Chicago native Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” project. Savage started the project as a means for gay adults to remind teenagers that no matter how alone and isolated they feel, life will get better down the line.
Savage himself was present as 25 local LGBT people and families recorded video messages for the project at the Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted St., the Windy City Times reported.
The vigil Friday night is being held in conjunction with a week of action proposed by the Make It Better Project, a collaborative effort between several groups to secure passage of two anti-bullying bills in Congress – the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act. The week of action ends Monday, which is National Coming Out Day.