Update (2:49 p.m. EST): According to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, Palmer "went on Instagram Live to clarify that Reese actually died of an overdose after she left him. A heavy drug user, Reese threatened to take his life and Faith’s. She ran away to safety, and it was then that he committed suicide."
Original (11:33 a.m. EST):
After a video went viral in which a man was bullied by other men for loving his girlfriend, a Black trans woman, he reportedly completed suicide. The news was shared on social media by people who knew Reese before drawing condolences from Hollywood notables including Janet Mock, Indya Moore, and Keke Palmer.
“My heart breaks for Reese, for his girlfriend, and their loved ones,” Mock tweeted. “These men screaming at him are beyond fragile, standing on a shaky altar of masculinity, too insecure to do what Reese did: Unapologetically love a woman who everyone says is unworthy of love.”
Reese, also known to many as Maurice Willoughby, Jr., was an aspiring musician living in Philadelphia. He often used his Facebook pages, of which he had several, to share his lived experiences via livestream. His girlfriend, Faith Palmer, can be seen in a number of the videos. Comments on some of the videos are transphobic, misgendering Faith, but Reese never cowered and consistently professed his love for her. He had her name tattooed on his face.
Recently, a video went viral that showed Reese being taunted by a group of men in his neighborhood.
“Bro, you do what?” says the voice behind the camera.
“Fuck trannies,” Reese responded. “So what?”
“He suck dick,” the voice continues as Reese verbally spars with the men attacking and recording him.
Activist-writer Ashlee Marie Preston posted the video upon learning of Reese’s death, along with the caption, “When a man is confident & secure enough to openly love a trans woman; this is the bullying and harassment he gets.”
“When trans attracted men kill us; it’s out of fear that this will happen to them if they are outed,” she continued. “Reese didn’t kill his girlfriend; he killed himself instead. #RIP”
Other condolences were posted on social media, many echoing Preston’s statement.
“I'm so sorry that we exist in a world where loving someone deserving of love equates to be undeservingly hated for it,” posted Moore. “That we are punished for daring to love freely. Thank you for loving faith openly and bravely, you deserve that, and she deserves that.”
In a video posted to her Facebook page, Preston said she spoke to Palmer, who revealed details about Reese’s experiences leading up to his death. Preston says Palmer told her that “people don’t know the full story.” She said he needed mental health support.
Out has reached out to Palmer for comment and will provide updates as necessary.
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.