In 2010 Tyler Clementi took his own life after being publicly outed on the Internet by his college roommate. His oldest brother James, who is also gay, is now an activist hoping to shape a world that's more accepting and inclusive of LGBTQ people.
The impact of bullying is profound. It can lead to a plethora of physical and psychological problems that can be life-long. And far too often it leads to suicide, one of the main causes of death among school-age and college students in the U.S.
When I give presentations at schools, I am always looking for Tyler in the crowd. I guess some part of my mind still thinks I can save him. Ultimately I cannot. But every time I tell the story, I meet at least one person who reminds me that there are others who need to know that they are not alone.
The Dharun Ravi verdict and sentencing represents a dramatic shift in society's view of anti-gay bullying and of bias crimes against LGBT people. Just compare what Ravi did to Tyler Clementi to what Mitt Romney reportedly did to a nonconforming student at his prep school in 1965.
We know 20/20 has a mixed history on LGBT issues, but in this case, Chris Cuomo simply gave Ravi a free ride without any challenges to what seemed like a "too little too late" set of rationalizations for his actions.
With the jury's guilty verdict in the so-called Rutgers University webcam spying case, Ravi, it appears, has been turned into the proverbial sacrificial lamb for society's collective guilt about its own bias intimidation against homosexuals.
What a sad tragedy when hate blackens love and destroys young lives. What a horrible act it is to have one's love and affection for another used to ostracize and expel a young man from an academic community engineered to expand and promote diversity.
Had Clementi not committed suicide or had the case not been given so much attention, Ravi probably never would have faced a jury. The prosecutors had no choice but to push the harshest possible charges.