Tyler Clementi was a gay eighteen year-old freshman at Rutgers University who was struggling to come to grips with his own sexual identity.
Dharun Ravi was Tyler's roommate, who along with his friend Molly Wei, used a hidden webcam to secretly record a dorm room sexual encounter Tyler had with another man.
Upon learning that Dharun and Molly planned to broadcast the video online, Tyler jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge in New York.
Today, nearly a year and a half after the suicide of Tyler Clementi, jury selection begins in the trial of Dharun Ravi, who is charged with bias intimidation, invasion of privacy, and hindering prosecution.
It's natural to be angry at those who bully others, and it's easy to be enraged by the continuing onslaught of gay teen suicides. What's far more difficult is to look closer at the real lives of those young people, who in the face of ultimate desperation, believed that only one path remained for them - and they killed themselves.
For us to honestly grasp what is sacrificed each time a young gay brother or sister believes suicide is the only way out, we must first seek to truly understand who we have lost.
James Clementi has recently published a series of short letters he wrote to his younger brother Tyler. His letters are not easy to read, but they are too important not to read, and they do a beautiful job of helping us fully realize what we all lost on September 22, 2010 - when Tyler jumped off that bridge and drowned in the Hudson River.
The letters from James to Tyler can be found here.
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