A year after becoming East Mecklenburg High School’s first transgender homecoming king, 18-year-old Blake Brockington committed suicide Monday March 23.
A vigil was held the next night in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“Thank you for being a part of the space today and being here to support one another,” director of youth programs at the Time Out Youth Center O’Neale Atkinson, said. “None of us have to do this alone. We’re all here to support each other. If you need each other, lean on each other. We love you. We’re here for you. Be kind to one another. Love on another.”
Brockington became a transgender youth activist when he came out as transgender himself as a sophomore.
“It didn’t make sense,” he told the Charlotte Observer in January, explaining that he never felt comfortable wearing dresses. “I felt like a boy.”
Brockington moved in with a foster family when his family didn’t take the news of his transition well.
“My family feels like this is a decision I made,” he said. “They think, ‘You’re already black, why would you want to draw more attention to yourself?’ But it’s not a decision. It is who I am. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.”
Brockington said his homecoming king win means the most for the younger transgender students he mentored, including a nine-year-old boy.
“He really looks up to me. That’s my heart,” he said. “He has support now and he will be able to avoid just about everything I’m going through and I don’t want him to ever have to be scared. I feel like if I do this, that’s one red flag for everybody to say, ‘Nobody should be scared to be themselves and everybody should have an equal opportunity to have an enjoyable high school experience.”
Even with the win and school support, Brockington received a lot of backlash on the Internet.
“That was single-handedly the hardest part of my trans journey,” he said. “Really hateful things were said on the Internet. It was hard. I saw how narrow-minded the world really is.”
Writer Janet Mock tweeted her support of Brockington writing, “Rest in power,” and Orange is the New Black’s Laverne Cox retweeted it.
Friends wrote chalk messages to Brockington at his vigil saying things like, “You are loved,” “My brother,” “Blake you will be missed,” and “Blake we love you.”
“I’m still a person,” Brockington said earlier this year. “And trans people are still people. Our bodies just don’t match what’s up [in our heads]. We need support, not people looking down at us or degrading us or overlooking us. We are still human.”
Contact Trans Lifeline at (877) 565-8860 (U.S.) or (877) 330-6366 (Canada) if you need to speak to counsellors with experience dealing with transgender issues.