18-year-old Blake Brockington died after an apparent suicide last Monday. Brockington was crowned homecoming king at East Mecklenburg High School, where he attended last year, making history as the first transgender homecoming king in North Carolina. It was after Brockington won the title that he realized how terrible people could be.
“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.”
Brockington had always felt like a male and he came out publicly as transgender in the 10th grade. “Throughout my life, I haven’t really been treated equally as a male, so I’ve always wanted this, always, and everybody has always told me I couldn’t do it,” he told a local NBC affiliate at the time. “Even though you go through some things, and you have some negative encounters in your life, anything is possible, you can do anything you set your heart to.”
Brockington decided he wanted to live with a foster family to help make his transition go a bit smoother. His family told him that he was already Black and they wondered why he would draw more attention to himself. “I’m still a person,” Brockington said during an interview. “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.”
The news comes as a shocker as Brockington so wholeheartedly accepted himself as a male and even acted as an activist for transgender youth. He wrote a piece in January’s Observer about his struggle to be accepted and even urged trans youth to ask for support when they needed it. “I would love for a lot of the trans youth to know that they are not alone and this is a large community,” he said in a video with the article.
“He was seen as a leader in the LGBT movement and social justice movement,” said Rodney Tucker, executive director at the center. “We are all in shock and grieving here.”
Our hearts go out to Brockington and his family in this difficult time. When you’re the one who lifts everyone up, who lifts you up? Brockington was a beacon of light for many trans youth and his light will continue to shine bright, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the need for trans youth to have someone to talk to about their journeys.