Last night on Rock Center with Brian Williams, Lester Holt spoke with Joe and Jane Clementi, the parents of Tyler Clementi, the gay Rutgers student who tragically took his life in 2010 after discovering his roommate, Dharun Ravi, had broadcast his intimate encounter on the Web.
It’s the first time the Clementis have spoken to the press extensively, and we learn that even though Tyler’s older brother, James, was also gay, their parents struggled with accepting homosexuality.
Tyler came out just weeks before he left for school, and Mrs. Clementi admits the news “shocked” her because of her strong Christian faith.
She said she also realizes that Tyler may have misread her reaction during their conversation. He later texted a friend that his mother had rejected him after he came out to her.
“It just was like a dagger,” Mrs. Clementi said. “And that took me a long time to process. Because I did not think I had rejected him.”
The Clementis are now working to foster acceptance for gay youth with The Tyler Clementi Foundation, which they hope will combat cyberbullying and the idea that homosexuality is sinful—a belief they once held themselves.
“Sin needs to be taken out of homosexuality,” said Joe Clementi. “Our children need to understand—and adults need to understand—that they’re not broken.”
Photo: James Clementi