Teenage film-maker commits suicide one month after making It Gets Better video for gay youth
A teenage filmmaker, who made an emotional and inspiring video in support of gay and lesbian youth, has committed suicide.
One month after filming It Gets Better, gay-and-lesbian websites reported that 19-year-old Eric James Borges - known as EricJames among his friends - had taken his own life.
The motives and circumstances surrounded the teenager's death have not been revealed, but through his work Borges had revealed his homosexuality and 'coming out' last year had been a traumatic experience.
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Tragic loss: Eric James Borges, a 19-year-old gay film-maker who committed suicide on Wednesday, urged young people to embrace their lives
He had been a vocal supporter of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth, and in his own film-making and writing he had added the popular variant Q to the acronym - for those who identify as 'queer' and are questioning their sexual identity.
The California-based Borges revealed in his video that he was estranged from his family - his mother having performed an exorcism on him in a bid to 'cure' him, before he was told to leave home.
Borges had been trying to make a new life for himself in San Joaquin Valley, working as an intern with The Trevor Project - which aims to intervene and prevent suicide among LGBT youth.
Poignant caption: Borges writes under this Facebook photo, 'I am human. I am also spiritually, emotionally, and sexually attracted to men. I am OUT. It took courage, and it was all worth it'
Laura McGinnis, the Communications Director at The Trevor Project, called Borges' suicide a 'tragedy' and released a statement saying: 'We are deeply saddened to hear about the tragic death of EricJames Borges, and our hearts go out to his family and friends, and his community.
'EricJames was a dedicated, trained volunteer. Our main concern right now is that those affected by his death feel supported and can get the care they need.'
In It Gets Better, Borges speaks frankly of being tormented throughout his brief life, saying he was 'physically, mentally, emotionally and verbally assaulted on a day-to-day basis'.
Turning life around: After being kicked out of his 'extremist Christian' family home for his sexual orientation, Borges was building a life in California
In one picture on his Facebook page, with the Title 'OUT', Borges comments: 'October 11th, National Coming Out Day. I am human. I am also spiritually, emotionally, and sexually attracted to men. I am OUT. It took courage, and it was all worth it.'
In the It's Get Better video, Borges explains: 'I was raised in an extremist Christian household. My earliest recollections of my experience with the relentless and ongoing bullying was in kindergarten, but of course to a lesser degree.
'Throughout elementary, junior high and high school it got progressively worse. I was physically, mentally, emotionally and verbally assaulted on a day-to-day basis for my perceived sexual orientation.
''I had nowhere safe to go, either at home or school... My parents told me that, among other things, I was disgusting, perverted, unnatural and damned to Hell. About two months ago they officially kicked me out of my house
'My name was not Eric but "Faggot".
'I reached my limit when I was assaulted in a full classroom with a teacher present. I dropped out, went on independent studies, graduated early and started college.
'My mother knew I was gay and performed an exorcism on me in an attempt to cure me.
'My anxiety, depression, self-loathing and suicidal thoughts spiked.
'I had nowhere safe to go, either at home or school... My parents told me that, among other things, I was disgusting, perverted, unnatural and damned to Hell. About two months ago they officially kicked me out of my house.'
But Borges' message to other teenagers is clear: 'I know it is hard, and I know what it feels like to be rejected and abused for your biological sexual orientation. And I know what it feels like to live in a world of government-sanctioned homophobia. But I refuse to be treated as a second-class citizen.'
Poignantly, given the circumstances of his death, Borges ends his video with a message of hope and encouragement, saying: 'You have an entire life fit to burst with opportunities ahead of you. Don't ever give up, and don't ever for one second think that you're not a valuable and beautiful contribution to this world.'
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