Rutgers Student Death Hits Celebrities Hard

Kim Conte

ellen degeneresEllen DeGeneres calls for an end to teenage bullying, intolerance, and ignorance in an emotional video appearance posted to her website.

She's neither the first nor the last celebrity to speak out after the suicide of 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers student who jumped to his death after learning that his roommate Dharun Ravi and another student, Molly Wei, recorded him having sex with a man and put the footage on the Internet.

Judging from the subsequent outpouring of support for gay youth -- from celebrities like Ellen, Dave Navarro, Ciara, Sophia Bush, and more -- it's clear this tragedy has struck a chord with many celebrities.

In addition to Clementi, Ellen mentions other teens who recently were teased and bullied and then committed suicide -- Seth Walsh, Asher Brown, and Billy Lucas. She says we have an opportunity to stop the epidemic of teenage bullying in America. Her message is powerful and sobering:

"My heart is breaking for their families, for their friends and for our society that continues to let this happen .... We can't let intolerance and ignorance take another kid's life."

Blogger Perez Hilton and columnist Dan Savage started a YouTube initiative, It Gets Better, to offer support to LGBT youth and encourage them not to give up -- because life does get better. Here's R&B singer Ciara and MTV VJ La La Vazquez teaming up to encourage teenagers to look to the future.

"You gotta know that your life is in your hands. You determine your destiny. You're in total control. You determine where things can go -- where they can start, where they can stop. It starts with you, and it really does get better."

And, America's Next Top Model star Jay Manuel offers these words of wisdom:

"When someone calls you a name and they call you gay and they call you queer or whatever they call you, remember that at the end of the day, you can go off and be a success all on your own."


Other stars who've pledged to join the campaign and offer their own video message include: Joel Madden, Aubrey O'Day, Nick Cannon, and Khloe Kardashian.


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