“My mother is teaching my siblings to despise Gays.” Says the Man Who Was Unable To Go On Living

“My mother is teaching my siblings to despise Gays.” Says the Man Who Was Unable To Go On Living

On June 17, Michael George Smith Jr. posted a screen shot of a message from a sibling on his Facebook page. It read, “God doesn’t born gay people. You make yourself gay.” Smith, a gay native of Hackensack, N.J., wrote in a caption, “My mother is teaching my siblings to despise Gays.. I’m done with Life. I’m Hurt To The Core.”

Less than a month later, he was dead.

On July 7, Smith, 22, who also identified as London Jermaine, was found hanging from a tree in Atlanta’s Piedmont Park. Moments beforehand, he had posted another message.

“I see y’all in the next Life… Deadass,” he wrote on his Facebook page, which listed him as a student of computer science at Georgia Tech. “Father forgive me.”

Police ruled the death a suicide. They found no signs of a struggle, just a shoe print on a wheeled garbage can’s lid near the tree that matched Smith’s black Converse sneakers. Pollen was in his clothes from where he had climbed the tree. Earbuds were still in his ears. The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office determined that the cause of death was asphyxiation from hanging.

However, Smith’s death shocked many on social media, who wondered if it might be a motivated by hate. They called it a “modern-day lynching,” reports Project Q. The timing was a factor in that theory. The young man died in the midst of protests in Atlanta over the police shootings that rocked the country last week.

Ultimately, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has ruled that there was no foul play. But Smith’s social media posts reveal that he was struggling with his identity as a gay man of color in the United States. And he was crying out for help.

“Being Gay in America is Hard. Being Black in America is Hard. Imagine being both #NoH8,” he wrote June 13.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 24. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual young people are even more vulnerable, taking their lives at four times the rate as their straight peers. Moreover, each instance of verbal or physical abuse against an LGBT person increases their likelihood to self-harm by an average of 2.5 times, according to a 2010 study published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Smith’s also detailed struggles with health issues, including several cases of food poisoning. On one occasion, he wrote that had a CT scan: “Please No to Have Colon Cancer… I thought I was free of everything.”

Smith’s family has launched a GoFundMe page to cover his funeral expenses. As of the time of this article’s publishing, the family had raised $1,010 of a $5,000 goal.

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32 Comments

  1. Mandy
    July 18, 06:32 Reply

    This really is quite heartbreaking. I can imagine how alone this guy must have felt to get to this point of no return.

  2. Francis
    July 18, 06:53 Reply

    ??? Another reminder say homophobia still dey everywhere though in varying degrees #RIP

  3. DI-NAVY
    July 18, 06:58 Reply

    That’s not enough for him to take his life haba! The way my dad and eldest bro disgust gays ,I would have run into a trailer by now . There are a lot to enjoy in life than to worry about homophobia . If suicide was the best option , half of the gay guys on Nigeria would have committed suicide be that coast basically our family detests gayism . May his soul RIP

    • Francis
      July 18, 07:07 Reply

      Every man get him own threshold for suffering.

    • Kenny
      July 18, 07:31 Reply

      Your dad and your brother, do they know you’re gay? There is a difference between your family expressing their homophobic selves generally and expressing it directly at you. The latter is worse and can drive people mad. Trust me I know.

      • DI-NAVY
        July 18, 07:34 Reply

        I will never ever take my like @Kenny . There are better options . I will just stay far away from them trust me . And yes Dennis , like you said its individualistic . I agree

        • Kenny
          July 18, 07:57 Reply

          Easy to say. When you’re not the one wearing the shoes. You’re not the one feeling so much pain, anger and sometimes hatred your heart constricts everytime. You’re not the one whose every step and decision is shadowed by his sexuality at home…… He was 22 and most likely still dependent and attached to his family…

    • Dennis Macaulay
      July 18, 07:31 Reply

      Di-Navy people handle pain differently, there is no proper way to process! Its all individualistic!

      I feel so sad reading this and I only just wish he had reached out for help. There is a lot of support in America

  4. ambivalentone
    July 18, 07:08 Reply

    The nerve of the family!!! What rubbish. If they don’t get the money, they won’t conduct a proper funeral or…? Nonsense

    • Francis
      July 18, 07:16 Reply

      My dear my friend tell me say na so oh. To bury person for overseas no be small expenses. We lucky for this end though some of us can be very stupid when handling dead pipul. Always wanting to throw owambe parties ???

  5. Jo
    July 18, 08:36 Reply

    Another life just wasted like that. mtcheew.

  6. Canis VY Majoris
    July 18, 09:01 Reply

    I sit through my family spewing homophobic slurs all the time and I’m mostly unperturbed, then I school them whenever they get out of line. Slow progress, but it is progress nonetheless. There is no excuse for suicide, as it is the coward’s way, some of us have been through worse and yet we stand, fighting the just fight.

    A life that is/was not a source of inspiration to others deserves no sympathy whenever it ends. It just proves they won and he lost!

    • Sam La'Smithereens
      July 18, 09:12 Reply

      Oga, suicide isn’t for cowards. And stop expecting people to handle situations same way you would. They are not you, so carry your expectation somewhere else.

  7. Dennis Macaulay
    July 18, 10:04 Reply

    Suicide is for cowards? I don’t even understand the kind of things I read on this website sometimes.

    If you have not walked in somebody’s shoes, you need to keep quiet! We are not all the same!

  8. Absalom
    July 18, 10:37 Reply

    Suicide is not for cowards.

    In a sense, we all have the right to take our own lives, if and when we choose to. Of course loved ones and society will try to stop you but a person who is determined to leave the world will find a way. There’s a reason euthanasia (=asking someone else to take your life, medically) is legal in some countries.

    Like it or not, there’s such a thing as losing the will to go on living, to be unable to hang on (or see no need to), to ask yourself what you’re still doing here. For some people, it’s a severe feeling that must be met with understanding.

    What news of suicides call for are grief and empathy, and work aimed at preventing as many as we can.

    But suicide is NEVER cowardice. That’s just our primal fear of death and hope for immortality talking.

    Poor guy; his family is shit.

    • Delle
      July 18, 11:58 Reply

      Suicide, nonetheless, isn’t the solution. This should be sunk into the heads of our young generation. I can’t imagine virile young men and women killing themselves just because the choice of who to love wasn’t given to them.
      #cantstopcrying

  9. Peak
    July 18, 11:02 Reply

    Jesus is in the building today, plus I am try my hands at being a good Christian…again. hence the reason why I am going to be on my better behaviour and resist the urge to break out a style kit and style some of these commenters and their atavistic way of thinking to size.
    Downplaying people’s struggles just to assure urself that you have some degree of self worth in a world that sees you as nothing more than a worthless piece of rag, is an indicator of how rich in character you are.
    Lets pray you don’t get to have front row sit in a theatre where suicide is the headlining act or situations that makes it ur only option.

  10. Brian Collins
    July 18, 11:06 Reply

    I feel so distraught reading this. I had a long Convo with my mum on Saturday and I was scared to my bones, like a whole new level of scared. I feel like she may just stop loving me if she finds out that I’m gay. I don’t know how I will ever be able to handle that.

  11. Delle
    July 18, 11:53 Reply

    I don’t know how they do it. Suicide. I can’t. I just can’t. I’ve thought about it in my dark years, but ultimately settled for running away. Killing myself? Why?
    I can’t imagine what Smith must have gone through. He looks so filled with energy and life in that picture but his eyes, even those are sullen.

    Suicide isn’t the solution. Those responsible, that’s if they even know they are, would still move on with their lives. So why end yours? I just hope there’d be enough sensitization on why suicide isn’t the solution. On no account should you take your own life. What happened to making a bridge from the sticks life throws at you? It’s so depressing, this story.
    So depressing.

  12. Deola
    July 18, 14:10 Reply

    Whenever these stories of suicide comes up, there is always that one comment about how :
    “Suicide can’t be an option for me”
    “How can one kill themselves”
    “I have had my struggles too but I haven’t killed my self so why should they”
    “Committing suicide means they are weak”

    Like I am sorry who asked you? People and their need to feel some sorta sick superiority. We all have different thresholds. We will all react to the same shit in different ways. Just cause you happened to meander out of the situation without harming yourself doesn’t mean you should start looking down on those who weren’t so lucky.

    Commiting suicide no be beans, means one has literally given up hope on all things that makes one enjoy life and sees no point in living and thus sees ending it all as the only option. To get to that point and then follow through? I can’t even imagine.

    Either show empathy and understanding or jump and waka pass.
    Suicide isn’t the solution, sure, but making such mumu comments sure isn’t the solution either.

    • Pink Panther
      July 18, 14:22 Reply

      ‘Commiting suicide no be beans, means one has literally given up hope on all things that makes one enjoy life and sees no point in living and thus sees ending it all as the only option. To get to that point and then follow through? I can’t even imagine.’

      This!

    • IBK
      July 18, 15:19 Reply

      Thank you Deola, just thank you.

      Survival is the basic human instinct. Do you know the amount of pain and torture or how sick the mind has to become to override that driving instinct that keeps your heart beating.

      Like he said, show some empathy and understanding or just walk away. Your talk of cowardice won’t help matters.. Heck may even worsen things. One more thing to be depressed about, the fact that people think you’re weak and cowardly. Abeg.

  13. Canis VY Majoris
    July 18, 16:37 Reply

    @You all. In case it skipped your minds yet again. The comment section is free and open to all to express themselves as freely as they wish, if you don’t agree with the opinions of another, simply contradict in the matured/diplomatic way possible or IGNORE, rather than the jejune craps most of you wrote.

    Also, it is not in your place whatsoever to assume the basis for my stern opinion on suicide. Perhaps if you had given it more thought rather than letting your emotions run away with you, you’d know some people are also victims of suicide indirectly, and we tend to suffer more from the loss of that loved one.

    • Francis
      July 18, 16:46 Reply

      Hmmmm, trying to compare the victim’s mental torture to the family’s own most especially when they fueled it?! #SeeRoughPlay ??

      • Canis VY Majoris
        July 18, 16:56 Reply

        @Francis. My basis for comparison has nothing to do with the story up there.

    • Peak
      July 18, 18:09 Reply

      @Canis I find is laughable when people with unpopular ideologies, hide behind feeble excuses such as free speech, freedom of expression etc. I guess in the spirit of civil liberty, we should all swallow all allow and swallow all forms of homophobia, racism, terrorism, tribalism, misogyny, slavery and every form of discrimination known to man. Afterall people are allowed to express themselves freely. And if by chance one doesn’t agree with some of the above mentioned “stern opinions”, perhaps the more “mature/ diplomatic” way to express our discomfort is to bake them fresh batches of cookies and organise sit downs where we can all hold hands and sing our hurtful feelings about their opinions into the atmosphere. Organise televised seminars and conferences, highlighting how we both hold contradicting views on subject matters or simply enter into negotiations on what we can do to make them change such views.

      LIVES! Are at play for everytime the subject of suicide is brought up. Not a pair of shoe, a rotten tomatoe, a government officials and his dealings, but an actual lives. Someone who lives and breath. Someone with all kinds of potentials that could have been preserved. If you have ever taken the time to think about how people talk all kinds of shit about life and the world, with an accompanying idea of a better life on the other side, but are never willing to live the so called bitter and painful world for the better one. Then you would begin to have a grasp as to what suicide or being suicidal is about. The keey factor that separate someone who goes through with suicide and the person who waits it out, is HOPE! For you to get through everyday, you have to have something to hope for, look up to, a tomorrow worth fighting for, a future and life that you see plausible. Remove these from the equation of a human life and you begin to have more insights into the mind of a suicidal person. Name calling means nothing but a catalyst designed to push them further into the darkness. Imagine how sad and worthless everytime u had to deal with a homophobic tirade but some how brushed it off, then place someone who has lost the zeal to live in those shoes and u have urself a smoking gun.

      I find it shocking that most gay men lack the simplest set of emotion that the average human being ought to possess…Empathy and Understanding. Knowing what it means to survive one day to another and its inherent struggles, one would expect better. We are all wired differently. Just because u can haul a 50 liter gallon of water from Alaba to Asaba without breaking a sweat, doesn’t mean we can all do it. You were just gifted in one in millions of areas than another. That doesn’t make you superior.

      And as for this…”Also, it is not in your place whatsoever to assume the basis for my stern opinion on suicide. Perhaps if you had given it more thought rather than letting your emotions run away with you, you’d know some people are also victims of suicide indirectly, and we tend to suffer more from the loss of that loved one.” Now who is being emotional now? Perhaps if you aren’t too caught up in ur feelings as well, you would understand people’s revulsion to ur “stern opinion” stems from dealing with suicide DIRECTLY and not some trickled and watered down aftermath. And using ur momentary discomfort from losing someone to suicide just rubbed me of as an excuse a selfish person would give. If anything at all, I would be mlre concerned about what led up to such hopeless situation and if there was anything I could have done to change things and not express fruitless and momentary anger over someone signing out early. #HopeThisIsDiplomaticEnoughForYou #ThinkOnThis

      It takes absolutely nothing from us to open our minds to gain insight into challenges that are alien to us rather make factless arguments with reckless impunity.

      • Canis VY Majoris
        July 18, 18:16 Reply

        Sigh @Peak and you expect me to read all that? C’mon it’s a Monday.

        • Peak
          July 18, 18:33 Reply

          I know right? I guess I should be contented with putting up with ur improvident “stern opinions”? Afterall, my attempt at “matured/diplomatic way” of contradiction is not worth ur time. I guess I should learn how to deal.

          Thank you very much, you have been most helpful.

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