Tyler Clementi’s Parents Talk To NBC

Jane and Joe Clementi, parents of Tyler Clementi, talk to the media for the first time tonight in a sitdown interview on Rock Center with Brian Williams, tonight at 10pm.

The Clementis reveal Tyler was struggling with a number of personal issues when he took his life in 2010, but claim that the cyber-snooping by roommate Dharun Ravi played a role in his death.

‘Whatever underlying depressions or pains that were going on with [Tyler], that was straw that broke the camel’s back and that was the thing that pushed him to the breaking point,” Tyler’s older brother, James Clementi, told NBC’s Lester Holt.

Rock Center with Brian Williams airs tonight at 10pm EST.


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  • Making up stuff is fun!

    Yeah, I’m sure some random jerk in college was what drove him over the edge. Not his own MOTHER rejecting him when he came out to her.

  • B

    Given what he said and what his mother said, one explanation for the apparent miscommunication is that Tyler might have interpreted what he heard based in part on all the negative comments about homosexuality he must have heard while growing up (I don’t mean at home – just in general), so surprise could have been misinterpreted as disapproval.

    His parents are probably right about explicit support being needed, something more obvious in hindsight. I’m not sure to what extent Ravi acted as the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, but our still homophobic culture deserves some of the blame.

    BTW, the claim about Ravi did not seem to be in the video – it ended with an option to “go back to it”, but if you picked that, you got an ad, at which point I gave up. Was there something past that ad or was it just the usual come-on (which is what I assumed)?

  • Making up stuff is fun!

    @B: Yeah, who knows what the reason was, the point is: TYLER FELT REJECTED BY HIS MOTHER. I still can’t believe so much attention has been paid to some random jerk he dealt with (who has gone to high school/college in the US and not dealt with at least several psycho/sociopaths?), and yet so little attention has been paid to the fact that HIS OWN MOTHER rejected him when he came out to her? If one single incident can be pinpointed that would explain Tyler’s actions (although I don’t believe such pinpointing is at all possible), his mother’s cruel rejection would be a way more likely suspect than Ravi’s web-cam espionage.

  • B

    Re No 3: I really don’t find it plausible that Ravi’s web cam shenanigans are the cause as his RA was supportive and he started the process of getting a room change, and the cam actually showed only a little kissing. But, there were conversations between the two that we have no record of. We really don’t know what went on.

    We do know that Ravi was apparently manipulative and that he was probably scared that he was going to get in serious trouble, maybe kicked out, due to his behavior. Whatever he did, he had a motive for trying to coerce his roommate into dropping the matter.

  • Darren

    I find it very odd how now they’re saying “Oh it’s OK to be gay or bisexual! Let’s take the sin out of it!” when HIS MOTHER rejected her own gay son when he came out to her.

  • oh123

    I find the comments here interesting, We are trying to find one cause for this young mans tragic death. Like any tragedy there is usually a number of factors leading to the event.
    Yes a mothers rejection (or perceived), bullying at school and then the final act betrayal his privacy being filmed and by the same sick room-mate, could all be factor in to the final act of desperation, but in the end only Tyler knows his reasons and I hope he is at peace. Myself I would have took my violin and shoved right up the fucker who cammed me and but that on YouTube. But that’s me I have little tolerance or care about what others think of me, I wish Tyler had the same.

  • Making up stuff is fun!

    @oh123: Hey, that’s what I’m saying too, that a decision like suicide has a lot of causes, and that’s it’s impossible (illogical, really) to try to find a determinant cause.

    That said, if you put in a balance two of the things that we know about Tyler Clementi — that he got bullied by his asshole roommate, and that his mother rejected him when he came out — which one would weigh heavier in his mind? My guess will always be his mother. She rejected him when he came out; how can that not be the most hurtful thing in a young gay man’s life, being rejected by one of your parents?

  • B

    No. 6 · oh123 wrote, “Myself I would have took my violin and shoved right up the fucker who cammed me and but that on YouTube.” … which didn’t happen. Nothing was put on YouTube. Aside from the facts, your reaction reminds me of a small item in our local paper. It seems some misbehaving teenagers in a car threw a smoothie at a woman, who got upset and threw her purse at them. Unfortunately the purse landed in the car and the car drove off. Even more unfortunately, she had $2000 in the purse.

    Violins aren’t cheap. If you are going to shove something, pick something else.

  • B

    What you are seeing is something sometimes called the Rashomon effect in which different observers produce significantly different accounts of an event, all more or less equally plausible.

    It is named after a famous film – here’s the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCZ9TguVOIA (it’s about the aftermath of a heinous crime, where several people testify as to what happened, each with significantly different stories. Who, if any of them, is telling the truth is not clear. Some may be lying, some may be fooling themselves, and maybe someone is accurate.)

  • Exhibitionist

    When I was in college if a roommate or anyone else, had spied or filmed me in secret masturbating or having sex and put it on the net it would have been a MAJOR TURN ON!

  • Exhibitionist

    No I would not have killed myself either.

  • Table4Thoughts

    People just want to defend Ravi. There’s an element of racism involved in this as well. Ravi represents the anti white and Tyler represented the white gay man. MANY minorities resent white men, ESPECIALLY white gay men. They will go to all extents to defend the death of a white gay men and the “anti white gay” perpetrator as often as they can.

  • Making up stuff is fun!

    @Table4Thoughts: Congratulations! You’ve won today’s “I totally pulled that out of my ass” award.

    We’re sure this won’t be your last.

  • Aaaron

    @Table4Thoughts: I actually agree to an extent about what you wrote. I think there’s so much homophobia attached to this story, and yes, there very well could be a level of racism. That so many white gay youth are commiting suicide and we all know ethnic minority youth can be violently homophobic is something that makes one stop and pause amidst all these tragic homophobic stories.

  • IonMusic

    I’ve seen so many people attempt to blame EVERYONE but Ravi. That’s their internalized homophobic inner monologue speaking. To try to erase the level of homophobia depicted in Ravi’s writings, twitter, messages is to attempt to erase factual homophobia that exists. You’d rather turn the tables and ‘blame the gay’ a tactic very carefully orechstrated by anti gay groups. You’re shining martyr, Ravi Dhuran may not have been the only reason Tyler commited suicide, but he was most definitely an extension of it and a contributing factor. No matter how often you try to defend his vile HOMOPHOBIC actions for a ‘boys will be boys’ spin, he will forever have homophobe attached to his name. You, nor his rich family will ever be able to erase that. Enjoy it and pick a new mascot.

  • Making up stuff is fun!

    @Aaaron: Ok, so … ethnic minority youths can be very homophobic. Wouldn’t that mean you should be worried about ethnic minority gay youths, who are the ones who bear the brunt of ethnic youths’ homophobia? Or does ethnic youth homophobia only count if it affects white gay youths?

  • 2EastCoastDudes

    Ravi Dherun will always be guilty. Many homophobes have attempted to change the narrative and present Tyler as a very disturbed individual, as if Ravi wasn’t? Is if homophobia wasn’t? as if HOMOPHOBIA ISN’T PRESENT AMONGST YOUTH TODAY?

    This story will by a poster child for the consequences of homophobia. Those who resent that resent homophobia even being talked about. Their sense of entilement dictates a Ravi being able to be as homophobic as he wishes, because homophobic college kids existed for ages, HOW DARE WE CALL THEM OUT TODAY is what they think. No, those days are long gone. A homophobic bully will be held accountable for their actions, and when that homophobic bullies actions drive one of our gay children to take their own lives, we WILL have a national dialogue about homophobia. Whether your camp appreciates it or not, LGBT will stand up and speak up on the matter, because for farrrr too long gay kids were told to “deal with” bullying. No more. Bully and you can anticipate some serious legislative backlash.

  • lazerlightbeams

    If this story went like this:

    Roomate finds out he has a black roomie. Goes on twitter and writes “Great. Just found out I have a BLACK roomate. this should be weird” then finds out his black roomate has an interacial relation and goes and texts his friends “black roomie having an interacial chick over. LOL. priceless. come over and watch!” and the black roomate expresses feeling alienated and disrespected by his non black roomate and his non black roomates friends and takes his own life, the non black roomate would be executed, his family sent in jail for life, the President would stop current programming to issue a Presidential speech about it, there would be riots and rallies all throughout the streets and the black kid who took his own life would be forever hailed a Saint with photos of him on t-shirts everywhere.

    Let’s be honest with ourselves for once.

  • Making up stuff is fun!

    @2EastCoastDudes: If anything, this story will be “a poster child”* for how willfully the public can misread a news story.

    *Really? “A poster child”? There’s two of you and that’s the best you could come up with? Seems like you too are poster children (<—correct use of the phrase) for the poor quality of the US education system.

  • Luc

    It’s really amusing to me that some go out of their way to try and tell us there’s no element of homophobia in this situation and the Indian roomate was of very little consequence to Clementi. Considering his own friend Molly testified that Ravi was indeed very uncomfortable with Tyler being gay and the premise was to make fun of Tyler with being with another man, yeah, I’d be inclined to believe Ravi and his friends made Tyler feel shamed, hurt, insulted, violated, and isolated. No amount of rewriting history will change that. And as far as I’m concerned, the narative of this case is over. Ravi will forever be known as that homophobe as well he should.

  • Jackson

    Many gay kids who take their own lives do have support of their parents but DON’T have support of their peers. For a teenager or young person, in most overwhelming amount of cases, the acceptance of fellow peers means far more than the acceptance of a Mom, aunt or grandfather. They find their validity through friends and like minded kids. That aspect of it should never go ignored. It does a complete disservice to our LGBT kids who are bullied, and let’s the bully go off without any repercussion.

  • Making up stuff is fun!

    @Luc: What I think is really weird is how much people focus on the roommate (who cares that much about a freshman year 1st semester roommate anyways?), but completely ignore the fact that HIS MOTHER REJECTED HIM WHEN HE CAME OUT TO HER AS GAY.

  • Brandon

    Jackson-Tyler at the time of his suicide-DID NOT have the support of his parents. He’d came out to them before he went to college and his mom rejected him! Tyler’s friends however did accept him as gay.

  • Brandon

    Lazerlightbeams I am black and I do not agree with what you wrote about black men/black youth. In your senario no the black youth would not be hailed as a saint and even black people would say things like “He was a coward.” or “He should have been with a black woman.”

  • Kate

    @Brandon: No, his college surroundings were not pleasent and he even expressed it on a gay message board that he did not have many people to confide in. His college roomates made him feel terrible for being gay. Something he expressed often, don’t be so bold in showing your homophobia.

  • MagicMike-el

    I absolutely agree with the poster that stated if it was a black kid who was taunted for being black and commited suicide, there would be looting and riots on the street. Somehow as a society, we’ve been told that racism is evil, homophobia is acceptable, often by people within those groups.

  • ixleclubNYC

    @MagicMike-el: Shall we remind ourselves that a national martyr was made out of TRayvon Martin who was nothing short of a trouble making, hoodlum teenager who had a past with theft, stole from school, picked fights, was suspended, and physically contributed in a fight the night of his death, but he was portrayed as this angelic innocent kid and the face of “how hard blacks have it” when he himself sought trouble. He brought trouble upon himself and yet the nation had to freeze for a year and make a victim out of someone who was hardly that…all based on his skin. Don’t think for one second a gay child would attract the same level of support or sympathy.

  • ixleclubNYC

    How hard it must be to have someone you live with TAPE your most intimate time, and put it on video to share with others, without you knowing. What a terrible invasion of privacy Tyler had to endure. My heart goes out to him eternally.

  • Pedro

    Tyler Clementi was weak…period. If anyone here thinks some guy he’d only known a few weeks had more to do with his suicide than his parents, they are deluding themselves. He was a weakling rejected by the people most dear to him, he was already contemplating suicide, probably for a long time, and this Ravi incident was simply the straw that broke the camel’s back. If he had come from a home where his sexuality had been accepted and knew he had the unconditional love of his parents, he would have been upset by what Ravi did, but it would not have drove him to suicide. His parents need to take a good look in the mirror, because they had a lot more to do with him killing himself than the Indian roommate he barely knew.

  • AJ

    Dhuran Ravi will forever live a life of terrible karma I hope. He absolutely contributed heavily in Tyler’s sadness and depression, a point Tyler expressed on his ‘Just us boys’ messageboard. Dhuran has proved to be a horrible, insensitive soul in all his interviews about this tragedy

  • Mike in Asheville

    Had either of Clementi’s parents said to him what my dad said to me, Tyler would be alive today. I came out to my parents at 20, now 32 years ago. While my mother was shock/surprised and hardly said anything pro or con, as I left, my dad told me “When I went to war, it was so when I had a family, you would all live as free {Americans}. Don’t you dare let me down — you have every right to be who are and love who you love, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.” And then one of quite infrequent but famous bear hugs.

    Clementi’s family failed him, the roommate rubbed vinegar into the wounds.

  • Charles

    This kind of thing is happening more and more these days. All one has to do is watch the documentary movie “Prayers for Bobby”. Fruits of man made fundamentalism.

  • Charles

    When I say “fruits of man made fundamentalism” I mean that of literal to the letter interpreted organized religion. These people have waged a war against gay people. And as history has shown that no war has ever been won based on misinformation, these fundies will inevitably lose. The misinformation that I speak of is that they believe whole heartedly that being gay is purely choice and that in this seriously flawed analogy they will lose.

  • Daez

    A lot of parents are surprised when their child first comes out to them. The first reaction of a lot of parents is to reject the fact that the child is gay. That does not lead to all of them killing themselves.

    Hell, when I came out to my mom she freaked out and told her entire family and anyone that would listen that I “thought” I was gay. When her whole family and anyone that would listen took it better than she did she kind of reversed her stance.

    When I came out to my dad his only comment was, “let’s never talk about this again.” Now he and my partner get along better than him and I do, and my partner is present at all family gatherings and even Father’s Day.

    Parents can evolve, just like all situations can evolve. Apparently, this is something Tyler did not realize as he plunged from the bridge. Maybe the answer is more suicide prevention education.

  • MichaelSoccer

    I can’t imagine the pain Tyler experienced. To be made fun of by his roomates and then have his private life exposed…really ugly stuff. I’d go insane if someone had a webcam of me with a guy I was with, as a teenager. So sad for Tyler. And I agree, if he wasn’t gay, and this happened to a black kid, forget about it. We wouldn’t hear the end of it!

  • Alex

    Bullying is the problem here. A problem too many young gay kids face. There should be strict laws, punishable by serious consequences, for picking on people, especially for who they are. I’m sick of gay kids suffering because of homophobia some hetero jerk learned while listening to some Hip Hop music. Eough is enough and it’s time for this cycle to end. Gays need to have a zero tolerance policy for this crap that our gay kids have to take.

  • 1equalityUSA

    I came out to my mother before I had met anyone, so that the person, with whom I had partnered, wouldn’t be blamed. It was difficult for her and she had to go through many stages of evolution before getting to the point where she is now. We go through all of these stages before coming out. We give ourselves the amount of time needed, to come to some resolution. When we come out, it’s possible that we expect everyone to be as comfortable about this revelation as we are. We must remember to allow the people around us enough time to accept this new information. They have to come to terms with it and it doesn’t happen over night. If it did, I would suspect it. We have to recognize that there is a bit of grieving on the part of loved ones who have been told that we are not what we have purported to be and that the old self is no longer available. It sounds weird, but it is a loss in some sense, to those who have been told. I’m so sorry that Mr. Clementi wasn’t strong enough to wait for his parents’ eventual acceptance. I do not harbor disdain for his mother. She did the best she could and that’s all we can ask of a person. She wanted what was best and in her opinion at this time, being gay was scary to her. She hadn’t had time to adjust her mind to it or even wrap her brain around it. It’s such a heartache for all. I hope she can find peace and some way to instruct others that danger lurks. I wish the best for the Clemeti family.

  • B

    No. 21 · Luc wrote, “It’s really amusing to me that some go out of their way to try and tell us there’s no element of homophobia in this situation and the Indian roomate was of very little consequence to Clementi.”

    Are you reading the comments carefully? While I don’t think what was reported in the press about Ravi (e.g., some childish twitter posts and a few seconds of watching a video feed showing two men kissing) would have a measurable effect on the chances of a suicide, I also pointed out that there would have been private conversations between the two and we have no idea as to what was said during those. My opinion is that, if Ravi measurably contributed to the suicide, it was for something he did that did not come out in the trial and that was not reported in the press.

    One reason I’m skeptical about Ravi’s reported behavior contributing is that Tyler’s RA was supportive, offering to let him stay in the RA’s room for the night, and Tyler had requested a room change, but didn’t even wait a full work day afterwards for it to be processed. Ravi was a jerk, but he violated university policies to the point of being in serious trouble – possibly he would have been expelled – and was in reality just a short term problem that would go away. That is, assuming that what we read about it in the press is the full story, which may not be the case.

  • Brandon

    Kate it’s not being homophobic to point out how Tyler’s own mom rejected him when he came out to her as gay and she kept away from him when he was at college, she didn’t even try to ask Tyler’s other brother to check up on him.

  • B

    No. 31 · AJ wrote, “Dhuran Ravi will forever live a life of terrible karma I hope. He absolutely contributed heavily in Tyler’s sadness and depression, a point Tyler expressed on his ‘Just us boys’ messageboard.”

    http://text2cloud.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/2-cit2mo-4.jpg has a copy of this message board. Tyler didn’t sound depressed by Ravi’s behavior – it sounds like Tyler was handling it appropriately by filing a complaint and making sure Ravi’s computer was shut down and powered off (e.g., by pulling the plug on the power strip, according to other accounts).

    http://text2cloud.com/2011/01/now-things-get-complicated-the-calculus-of-desire/ has someone’s comment, “This is disturbing. Poor kid. He didn’t seem that frustrated about it in his posts, maybe upset, but not suicidal. If it was him, just tragic. Nothing you had to take your life over, buddy.” … I.e., people reading the comments before realizing what had happened saw no indication of Tyler being suicidal.

  • Kingston

    Dhuran Ravi will get his. HIS LIFE IS FULLY RUINED..thank Goodnes. Tyler, you’re a sweet angel in heaven today

  • okay,I've had it

    Why are so many White,Gay men racist? I really thought it was an urban myth. Are too many of you soooo weak that you forgot to pluck your piece of crust from the White Supremacy pie? (apart from the right to say that a black kid gunned down was “looking for it” even though his alleged killer was told to sit his tail down and not follow said teenager). The fact is too many white, gay men are too quick to pull a bitch move when it comes to matter of race, When my cousin came out, I being twenty years older than him told him straight: You may be a racial minority in a sexual minority, but sometimes, no matter what, a white, gay man will say crazier shit than any straight white man, all under the guise of being an oppressed minority. I thought my cousin’s mother had lost her mind when she said to her son, point blank: “don’t bring no rass white man home”. Maybe she just hasn’t intellectualised her instincts and experience out of her system in the name of so called tolerance, only to be shat on by the same people in the same old, same old way.


    @Kingston: “Dhuran Ravi will get his”. Hopefully Clementi’s mama will get hers too. Fair is fair.

  • 1equalityUSA

    I can’t help but think that there is unresolved issues around this very subject with some of the commenters showing so little mercy. Enough.
    They lost their son to suicide and their entire private lives have been made a National headline. How much more punishment do you want to heap on her frame? Drawn and quartered in the pubic square? Burned at the stake? They have started a foundation to educate others and possible prevent this from happening to another family. She could be elbow to elbow with 1,000 hormonal moms, but she isn’t. They have learned the hard way and are doing their best to make sure that nobody else suffers the same fate.

  • Making up stuff is fun!

    @1equalityUSA: Yeah, this lady had no trouble pointing the finger at Dharun Ravi and she’s still asking for the guy’s head. But if she thinks Ravi contributed to Tyler’s death, what does she think her own role was? Doesn’t she realize the unspeakable awfulness of what she did to Tyler? I don’t think this woman has learned anything.

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