The mother of Tyler Clementi, the teen who committed suicide in September 2010 after he was outed by a fellow student, says that she has left her church over the acceptance of gays.
Clementi, an 18-year-old student at Rutgers University in New Jersey, jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge just three weeks after he had come out to his parents. According to a friend, Tyler said that his mother had rejected him when he came out.
It is believed, however, that the suicide was primarily linked to him having been spied on and outed on campus by his room-mate Dharun Ravi, who was later charged and sentenced to 30 days in prison.
In an interview with the New York Times, Jane Clementi, spoke about the aftermath of the tragedy.
She revealed that she and her husband had left the church that made her resistant to her son’s coming out, had dealt with their middle son, James, also coming out and were working on a foundation to prevent suicide among gay teens.
She told the newspaper that she is troubled that her son may have believed that she had rejected him: “People talk about coming out of the closet — it’s parents coming out of the closet, too. I wasn’t really ready for that.”
Jane went on to say that she blames religion for the shame associated with homosexuality. “I think some people think that sexual orientation can be changed or prayed over. But I know sexual orientation is not up for negotiation. I don’t think my children need to be changed. I think that what needed changing is attitudes, or myself, or maybe some other people I know.
“At this point I think Jesus is more about reconciliation and love. He spoke more about divorce than homosexuality, but you can be divorced and join a church more than you can be gay and join churches,” she said.
Ravi has served his sentence for spying on Tyler, but adding insult to injury, was released after just 20 days. Prosecutors have appealed Ravi’s sentence, saying it was too lenient.