A gay teen from Huntsville, Alabama, has died by suicide after enduring anti-gay bullying.
Nigel Shelby, a 15-year-old freshman at Huntsville High School, was bullied at school by classmates because of his sexuality. He reportedly died last week.
Tennessee Valley Rocket City Pride, a local LGBTQ advocacy group, shared the news of Shelby’s death on Facebook with links to resources for queer youth in the region. “There are no words that can be said to make sense of this devastating news,” the group wrote.
Students at nearby Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University (AAMU) held a candelight vigil for Shelby this past Sunday, April 21.
The Candlelight for #NigelShelby has been moved to tomorrow evening at 6pm.
— AAMU Common Ground (@aamu_cg) April 22, 2019
Rocket City Pride also addressed the topic of anti-gay harassment Sunday at its Easter Drag Brunch. According to Rocket City Now, Caila Malone, a local drag performer, recalled “being called terrible words even when I was in elementary school before I knew what they meant.”
“These bullies have to be held accountable,” Malone added at the brunch, “and until our state legislation shows that they have to do that, they’re able to run amuck and do whatever they want.”
Community members have launched a GoFundMe page to support Shelby’s mother in the wake of his death.
Suicide and other mental health issues disproportionately affect LGBTQ youth in America. If you’re struggling with suicidal thoughts, please contact The Trevor Project, a nonprofit dedicated to suicide prevention, at 1-866-488-7386. Visit The Trevor Project’s website for more information and resources.