Alabama teen Nigel Shelby was laid to rest this week in a funeral celebrating the queer teenager’s life.
Friends and family members wore rainbow-themed clothing to the funeral to honor Shelby, a 15-year-old student who died by suicide earlier this month, potentially after a long period of homophobic bullying. The service, at the Rock Family Worship Center in Huntsville, according to Aazios, featured a colorful casket wrapped in rainbows, butterflies, and photos of Shelby.
In the days after Shelby's death, Messages of support from accross the country have gone out to Shelby’s family.
“Nigel was the sweetest child,” his mother Camika Shelby said earlier this month. She said her child wanted to become a performer and came out to her two years ago. She added, “I don’t want him to be remembered as a kid that was bullied for being gay and took his own life. He was sunshine. He was such a good spirit to have around. It breaks my heart because I feel like he had so much love to give.”
Camika Shelby said Nigel had been regularly seeing doctors and psychiatrists to deal with his depression. “A lot of people don’t understand that depression is a real disease,” she also said earlier this month. While she said that she doesn’t blame the death solely on the bullying, she points out that it likely exacerbated an already tumultuous internal battle as Nigel struggled to accept himself. But, “he was more than that,” she said.
According to the Center for Social Equity, 74 percent of LGBTQ+ youth say they don’t feel safe at school.
If you or someone you know is feeling hopeless or suicidal, contact The Trevor Project’s TrevorLifeline 24/7/365 at 1-866-488-7386. Counseling is also available 24/7/365 via chat everyday at TheTrevorProject.org/help or by texting 678-678.