The parents of Tyler Clementi, the 18-year-old Rutgers student whose suicide sparked a nationwide dialogue about the effects of antigay bullying, have broken their silence as they launch a foundation in their son’s name.
In the current issue of People magazine, Joe and Jane Clementi say their son came out to them two days before he left home to begin his freshman year — just three weeks before he ended his life by jumping off the George Washington bridge.
“Mom. I’m gay,” Jane Clementi remembers her normally happy-go-lucky son saying, shaking and nearly in tears. “I’m tired of living a lie.”
According to the story, Jane and her husband had no inkling that Tyler was gay, and had instead focused their suspicions on their older son, James, who only recently came out to them. Nonetheless, the Clementis say they made it clear to Tyler that they loved him and that nothing had changed. “Be careful,” Joe says he cautioned his son. “Not everybody is going to be so accepting.”
To honor their son’s memory, they have established the Tyler Clementi Foundation, which will “offer grants to programs that deal with gay teens, suicide prevention, and bullying.”
“It wouldn’t be fair to Tyler’s memory to let this slide,” Jane told the magazine. “Something good has to come out of this terrible situation.”
The December 19 issue of People is out now. For more on Tyler Clementi, Out.com has an in-depth profile here.