by Dr. Tim Seeling, Artistic Director, San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus
The question has been asked “Why Tyler?”
There are so many answers to this question. Tyler represented a true turning point in the progression of what we know of as bullying. His case brought to light what can happen in this age of technology and social media. We often hear about “at risk youth” and sometimes forget that there are countless youth who would never fall into a category such as that who are in an equally fragile place.
Why sing about this?
Because we live in a world that is not close to safe for LGBTQ young people. We are responsible for bringing this into the light and accountable if we do nothing to make it better.
That is why we are singing this music – to bring awareness – and, hopefully – create something safe and lasting.
To the world, Tyler had it all. He had just begun college at a great school – Rutgers. He had a wonderful, salt of the earth, family. Two brothers, mom and dad. He had music at the core of his being – a music major. He had just come out and was not thrown out or disowned. And yet, as he began to experience life as a young gay man, something terrible happened. His roommate secretly filmed him and posted it on social media.
Tyler felt he had nowhere to turn, no recourse. He was caught in the depths of despair and for him the only way out was to jump from the George Washington bridge and end his life.
What if Tyler had heard a gay men’s chorus sing songs of affirmation – or the stories of others who have found themselves in the depths of despair. He may not have felt so alone and without options.
This is only part of why we are proudly singing this music.