Bullying | Deaths | Gay Youth | News

Gay Teen Filmmaker and Trevor Project Intern Takes His Own Life

Eric James Borges, a gay teen filmmaker from Visalia, California and intern with the Trevor Project, took his own life this week just a month after posting an 'It Gets Better' video chronicling some of the personal troubles he had been through in his past, which included both bullying and an exorcism which his own parents had performed on him in an attempt to turn him straight.

BorgesBlogger Jim Reeves writes about Borges' death in a recollection on his blog, Queer Landia. An event page for Borges' memorial has also been set up on Facebook.

Says Borges in the video:

I was raised in an extremist Christian household. My earliest recollections of my experience with the relentless and ongoing bullying was in kindergarten, but of course to a lesser degree....Throughout elementary, junior high and high school it got progressively worse. I was physically, mentally, emotionally and verbally assaulted on a day-to-day basis for my perceived sexual orientation...'My name was not Eric but 'Faggot'...I reached my limit when I was assaulted in a full classroom with a teacher present. I dropped out, went on independent studies, graduated early and started college...My mother knew I was gay and performed an exorcism on me in an attempt to cure me....My anxiety, depression, self-loathing and suicidal thoughts spiked...I had nowhere safe to go, either at home or school... My parents told me that, among other things, I was disgusting, perverted, unnatural and damned to Hell. About two months ago they officially kicked me out of my house.

Unfortunately, these kinds of experiences are all too common.

Borges also made short films, one of which you can see, along with his 'It Gets Better' video, AFTER THE JUMP...

A statement released by Laura McGinnis, the Communications Director at The Trevor Project, reads:

We are deeply saddened to hear about the tragic death of EricJames Borges, and our hearts go out to his family and friends, and his community. EricJames was a dedicated, trained volunteer. Our main concern right now is that those affected by his death feel supported and can get the care they need. If you or someone you know needs support, please don’t hesitate to call the Trevor Lifeline at 866-488-7386.


Borges film, called Invisible Creatures:

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  1. Yes. Every child needs a mother and father so they can get an equal opportunity, gender-neutral beating.

    Extremist christians....indeed!

    Nasty pieces of garbage.

    Posted by: AllBeefPatty | Jan 13, 2012 8:15:11 AM

  2. My heart. :|

    Posted by: Nicholas | Jan 13, 2012 8:16:09 AM

  3. Why aren't his parents in jail right now?

    Posted by: Jack M | Jan 13, 2012 8:20:10 AM

  4. This is so profoundly sad. When will these bright, beautiful, loving, vital youths stop killing themselves!

    It DOES get better, but we all have got to keep telling those who are beaten, battered and hopeless that they are worth it; life is worth it!

    Rest in peace, EricJames.

    Posted by: Tophu628 | Jan 13, 2012 8:28:26 AM

  5. Family support is the most important stabilizing factor in young people's mental health. This is why the judgmental forces of religion are so evil. They tear apart loving families in the name of some Holy Book written centuries ago by superstitious twits. When will the churches begin to recognize the harm they do by instilling this ugly bigotry in their followers? They are the villains of this piece.

    Posted by: candideinnc | Jan 13, 2012 8:31:15 AM

  6. Candideinnc, you're right, his parents are the villains. Laura McGinnis is a better person than I am, in saying her heart goes out to his family. They abused him, disowned him and drove him to his death. My heart goes out to his friends, not his family.

    Posted by: Dastius Krazitauc | Jan 13, 2012 8:44:00 AM

  7. as i sit here questioning how this can continue when we are reaching these youths at some level. how can we help it to sink in, to beco0me a reality rather than a fairy tale. the only thing i can come up with while wracking my brain is that despite the reparative element, the support comes too late, and it seems entirely likely that the absent the ongoing abuse by the parents, PTSD or something like it is the culprit. children of abusive families often experience PTSD, as do battered wives. perhaps we and those who are trying to help are mistakenly putting children who are too damaged and haven't had sufficient time and counseling to integrate that positive message out there on the front lines, even though they may be eager to do so.

    it seems to me that at least a couple of years of counseling and at least that long of loving support would be required to sufficiently heal emotionally to start challenging the training of the immediate family in a public forum.

    i hate to say it, but for those so traumatized, going public to soon may be damaging to each pf them, but even more so to those who look up to them as beacons of hope.

    i know that i find it spirit crushing, i can't begin to imagine the affect on peers.

    Posted by: bandanajack | Jan 13, 2012 8:52:15 AM

  8. Christ shed tears over the sorrowful and again they are being shed over EricJames' death. Mine are shed for his inhumane treatment and suicide. Know that your memory is loved.

    Posted by: Greg | Jan 13, 2012 9:44:57 AM

  9. Heartbreaking. An exorcism? What is this, the 17th Century?

    Posted by: evan | Jan 13, 2012 9:52:01 AM

  10. This is so unfortunate. RIP.

    Posted by: Ashley Q | Jan 13, 2012 9:52:57 AM

  11. I hope BOTH his parents DIE from a PAINFUL disease....may they BOTH go to HELL!

    Posted by: Gay American | Jan 13, 2012 10:01:02 AM

  12. I hope I can give a kid like this a safe refuge some day.

    Posted by: MikeMick | Jan 13, 2012 10:08:43 AM

  13. It doesn't just "get better."

    It ONLY gets better if we change things.

    To change things takes millions of folks of all orientations standing up for themselves and their rights--and their own worth--on their own f***ing terms.

    F*** the "it gets better project."

    Saying everything's fine, cuz just grow up and "it gets better" is a HORRID and HAUGHTY lie.

    The "it gets better" project has a potentially fatal flaw: It affirms the status quo. It affirms gay people FOCUSING simply on HOW SUPPOSEDLY it is ALREADY better. Thing is, IT'S NOT.

    It gets better if you stand up for yourself, demand the respect you deserve--and do so even if you spend your LIFE (til ur 105 years old or so) doing so.

    And only then, if the majority straight community and politics of the moment don't give undue power to the far-right HATER-powers, it MIGHT get better for the next generation.

    --virtually all political power is controlled by two major parties--which is fine, except that the Republican party OPERATES as a gay-hate machine, and the Democrat party plays the middle in hopes of appeasing those who hate gay people.

    Things will get better when they do.

    In the meantime, maybe a kid like this one would have been better off saying an APPROPRIATE f*** you to the powers that be...but privately, on his own terms. As it is, the videos maybe just gave power and legitimacy to the hater elements by setting it up like THIS ONE KID had to take on the world BY HIMSELF???

    Kinda ain't right, y'all.

    Stop naively SAYING "it gets better." Do more fighting like He** to MAKE it better.

    Posted by: just_a_guy | Jan 13, 2012 10:11:17 AM

  14. Sadly this is the result of organized religion. Teaching GLBT children from their own earliest memories that gays are hell bound anyway negates their own teaching on suicide. These teaching engrained in your mind and reinforced by those who supposedly love you unconditionally are sometimes impossible to overcome. Organized religion is given a free pass for tormenting these kids and all the rest of us hidden behind their freedoms of religion and speech.

    They do not care and will never own the blood of innocents that can be directly linked to these hateful, harmful and spirit destroying messages taught everyday. Since the choice for these kids is an apparent lifetime of pain, hate and discrimination verses a quick release from it all what is there really to look forward to because in the end hell is what they are taught awaits them anyway?

    Until we can do more than just a simple slogan this will continue like it has for years on end. We only see it now more clearly because of the 24 hour news cycle. Kids are still forced into pews and this message is programmed from birth and I do not see anything that can ever stop it because these killers have all the power and the shield of protections granted to them from our very government.

    Posted by: Mickey | Jan 13, 2012 10:44:26 AM

  15. @Bananajack, I agree and think you hit on something that describes exactly what I was thinking:

    'it seems to me that at least a couple of years of counseling and at least that long of loving support would be required to sufficiently heal emotionally to start challenging the training of the immediate family in a public forum.

    i hate to say it, but for those so traumatized, going public to soon may be damaging to each pf them, but even more so to those who look up to them as beacons of hope.'

    It's hard to accept that his act of going public saying 'it gets better' and then succumbing to the abuse and taking his life will send a dangerous mixed message. I am NOT blaming Eric James for his decision as I am positive he came to the program to ONLY help others. But, like all of us, he was only human and probably didn't even realize how much he was suffering with PTSD. Mental health in this country, for all of the lip service, is still a mystery to most people and states like PTSD are not well acknowledged or known. It's not just soldiers that get it coming back from combat -- ANY human who faces the kind of long term abuse like Eric James did can easily suffer from it.

    I hope kids who do go the Trevor Project get the message that what Eric James did is NOT inevitable and that he was trying to get help along with helping them. It's just that sometimes we think we're treading water right up until the time we realize we're drowning.

    Posted by: princely54 | Jan 13, 2012 10:48:54 AM

  16. Whoops, I meant @BandanaJack....BananaJack is some kind of drink, I think.

    - Rick Perry

    Posted by: princely54 | Jan 13, 2012 10:51:02 AM

  17. Looks like it doesn't get better.

    Posted by: Devonte | Jan 13, 2012 11:05:56 AM

  18. It may be that It Gets Better is helping some kids, but it obviously is failing spectacularly with others. This is the second kid to have killed himself AFTER doing an It Gets Better video. They need personal interaction with a support network. That doesn't mean interacting with an organization, like this kid's internship. It means interacting with supportive individuals who are willing to listen to them at 2 or 3 am and to take the time to get to know them and understand their problems. I, for one, would be willing to volunteer to do that but I am unaware of any group that is attempting to make that happen.

    Posted by: George | Jan 13, 2012 11:10:37 AM

  19. I hope his parents are tormented by this until the end of their miserable, hateful, ignorant lives.

    Posted by: Michael W. | Jan 13, 2012 11:21:34 AM

  20. Astoundingly heartbreaking. His IGB video is haunting insomuch that you can see the desperation in his eyes. It's as if he wanted to believe in the words he was reading but realized that, for himself, the words were merely just that. If he only believed in his own words...this beautiful boy could have - would have - flourished. Another senseless tragedy.

    Posted by: jeffreychrist | Jan 13, 2012 11:25:22 AM

  21. So I know slogans are just slogans, but maybe "IT'S WORTH IT" is a better message than a false "It gets better."

    It's WORTH IT to grow up, live on your own terms, figure yourself out, and be true to yourself---all while saying f** you to the hate that CHURCHES and SCHOOLS TAUGHT you. It's not easy, and it might take sometimes not being overly loud and proud all the time--soley for your own self-protection, til you are stronger.

    Also, sad reality: I think in my lifetime, it has actually gotten WORSE, not better:

    The immoral "moral majority" has pushed hate in the public schools and religion at a more visible level than ever. And those haters TRULY BELIEVE they are right. Just like those "National Socialist" folks TRULY BELIEVED that Jews were inferior and deserved to be suppressed and exterminated.

    But maybe we shouldn't be asking these young kids to fight the battle FOR US. They need to fight THEIR OWN battles. And each individual is unique. Their lives are not JUST about gay rights. They need to make it in the world, build a skill set, support themselves to the point that they are ready for love and family (dad, dad, and kid or two) of their own.

    It's a bit wrong to send a child into battle without armor and strength, skill, etc. and all the seasoning that it takes to truly WIN.

    Don't get me wrong: The people in this kid's lives who treated him like SH** because they believed he was inferior KILLED HIM.

    And yes, he fought hard for a good cause which was noble and correct. BUT HIS LIFE WAS WORTH MORE TO THE WORLD THAN DYING SO YOUNG!!!!

    He was worth MORE than dying as the faggot Rick Santorum sees him as.

    We need to arm kids like this better. And maybe we need to not push them to battle so QUICKLY. He wasn't ready.

    It takes a lot of psychological strength to stand up to all the hate in the world.

    Kids, it gets better when you are stronger cuz you've worked your a** off and MADE yourself stronger, and are READY to stand up to all that hate PUBLICLY. RUSHING it is self-defeating if you haven't got yourself STRONG ENOUGH to fight it yet.

    Religious-conservative parents, administrators, and peers CANNOT BE TRUSTED. Build your own independent strength...and fight in ways that take less psychological strength than public pronouncements until you are READY to take all of that on more publicly.

    I'm not advocating for telling kids to go back in the closet or to not come out. But maybe kids should be careful to NOT TOO QUICKLY COME OUT SUPER-PUBLICLY because they need to build up themselves a lot more before going out and so PUBLICLY taking on the hate of their enemies.

    Strength, y'all. THIS kid was not yet strong enough to wage this public fight. He needed to build his PRIVATE self first. Now, some kids ARE ready, but THIS kid wasn't.

    Think of the WORTH that this kid could've brought the world.

    F***NG sad. This kids death was a casulty of the far-right's anti-gay violence.

    I suspect he fought so PUBLICLY because he saw so little ELSE to fight for in his life...because the AS**OLE "mentors" in his life didn't believe in his worth otherwise.

    Let this be a lesson to those of us who ARE established in our lives, and ARE strong enough to fight for what is right more openly or aggressively: Could we have fought harder? Smarter? In a way that could help kids like this?

    One thought regarding our efforts:


    Tennessee is the EPICENTER of legislated gay-hate in classrooms right now, right?? Folks like my parents and some of my straight peers who hate gays so much that they deny their EXISTENCE see Tennessee as a step towards their imagined "final solution."

    I say we need to fight harder in places like Tennessee! The haters are destroying kids like this one, and we need to fight them at the spots of their most egregious assaults...I think right now most exemplified in Tennessee.

    Yeah, the far-right has done its best to elminiate the middle class, to make it harder for folks without supportive families to make a go of it in the world. Things ARE NOT BETTER. They are tougher. We need to be tougher. Heck, I'm in my thirties now and still establishing myself. It's different for different people, but those who ARE established and strong maybe need to reevaluate their priorities...

    Sorry if some of these thoughts could be better organized, but this stuff really disturbs me.

    Posted by: just_a_guy | Jan 13, 2012 11:29:01 AM

  22. As I've stated before, the It's Gets Better campaign will make no difference to clinically depressed teens. If it were that easy to cure then depression would be long gone. Depression causes people to dwell on the negative regardless of their external circumstances. What we would really need is for all teens to get professional counseling to see if they are depressed. This could be done in schools.

    Posted by: anon | Jan 13, 2012 11:38:37 AM

  23. btw, I haven't watched this kid's video(s). I can't bring myself to. It's too sad and heartbreaking. I already know what they are about. I don't need to watch them, don't want to put myself through all that heartache.

    But am I wrong that this sort of thing calls for a STRATEGY CHANGE???!!

    Posted by: just_a_guy | Jan 13, 2012 11:39:29 AM

  24. Obviously the It Gets Better Project isn't enough but I think it's a mistake to blame the project itself. It can only do so much. It's like sending out messages in bottles, hoping the right people find them and that it helps.

    I can even understand WHY some of the young people who have made them did so even though they hadn't really reached a place where it WAS better for them. They wanted to believe that things WERE better for them, so they said it was hoping that would make it true. Really, it's probably a mistake for teenagers to make those videos in the first place because they don't have enough perspective yet, they're still in the middle of it and haven't experience it getting better yet. Maybe they should be called something else, The Hope For A Better Future Project or something, so they're not putting a false happy face as a front to cover serious issues.

    And so far as the religion thing goes, I just don't understand. I don't. How can you reject your own family, your own blood, in favor of an ancient book written by heat-addled nomads who couldn't find their way out of the frigging desert?! Eff them and the "savior" they rode in on!

    Posted by: Caliban | Jan 13, 2012 11:42:15 AM

  25. Saw this yesterday; figured I'd see it here today.

    It does get better, but it takes time. So many wise people above have mentioned PTSD, the need for therapy, the need for a friend at three AM. This poor young man experienced years of abuse and rejection; it takes time to balance the scales. "Better" is not a destination, it's a journey, with many helping hands along the way.

    What I fear is the message sent by those who make these "it Gets Better" videos who then get publicity when they, sadly, give up trying. I don't point fingers at those who felt that they couldn't take it anymore, because they felt pain many others don't understand. They didn't know what they didn't know, and weren't really ready for. But when young people who are struggling and who have yet to gain experience and perspective hear of these suicides of people who put a face and a story of hope out there, what does this do to their belief in hope?

    A factor of suicide risk is knowing someone who has committed suicide. Young people connect with each other through media. For them, it is normal to form friendships/relationships without ever actually meeting /physically interacting with people. And how many of us older folk have been moved, have empathized, when watching these videos? For those of us who are farther along on the journey, who have strength and a history to balance out the bad, we are better able to process the loss than are these young people.

    I don't have answers, but I think the question now needs to be, how do we facilitate getting better? Because just saying it isn't enough in the face of evidence that shows these kids, "No, it doesn't."

    Posted by: TJ | Jan 13, 2012 11:52:27 AM

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