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. JUST A GUY - no need to apologize. Your passion is appropriate. And you are feeling this loss in an appropriate way - anger at the injustice. Anger is a terrific, underrated emotion. It can be very compelling, and impelling. Let us all find a way to use our anger constructively to actively MAKE it better, rather than send the more passive message of it "gets" better.

    Posted by: TJ | Jan 13, 2012 12:03:18 PM

  2. Maybe the problem is that, once they have escaped from their homophobic environment, what they find around them in gay life does not give them much hope that it really does "get better." Maybe the real problem is a gay culture that does not seem very appealing to them and is a tremendous letdown after having had their hopes raised so high.

    I see no other way to explain this, really.

    Posted by: Rick | Jan 13, 2012 12:03:31 PM

  3. More proof that Dan Savage's overhyped "It Gets Better" Project does nothing to prevent suicides among LGBT youth! Borges's death does not reflect well on the Trevor Project, either. Not long ago, TP director David McFarland wrote an Advocate op-ed claiming that talking about Gay suicides causes Gay kids to kill themselves. Imbecile! I wonder what he's got to say about this tragedy?

    Posted by: Stuffed Animal | Jan 13, 2012 12:04:25 PM

  4. OF COURSE, RICK, you see no other way to explain this. BECAUSE YOU ARE AN EFFIN' IDIOT who sees everything through the prism of your tragically narrow ideology and world view.

    >see how someone one has never met can have such an impact and create so much bad feeling? Time to step away from the iPad, and (p)RICK<

    Posted by: TJ | Jan 13, 2012 12:12:51 PM

  5. Stuffed Animal, there actually IS research that shows suicide can be "contagious." Lavishing attention on and mooning about the tragic loss of someone who committed suicide can give other young people the wrong idea, that the way to finally be seen and appreciated is to kill yourself.

    It's a delicate balance because these suicides DO need to be talked about, their cause and possible ways to combat them discussed, but it has to be done in such a way that doesn't romanticize those who took their own lives.

    I truly hope this boy's parents are experiencing the torments of Hell right now, a Hell of their own making, because their "faith" and their actions directly caused this.

    Posted by: Caliban | Jan 13, 2012 12:15:16 PM

  6. It DOES get better, but I agree with Just A Guy. LGBT kids need a lot more than just a slogan-they need an actual support network. For example; I came out to my family when I was 25, but I didn't really "come out" until I got sober. Say what you will about the 12 Step programs, but they DO offer a support network of people who will answer the phone at 3AM. It's not enough to say "It gets better". We have to MAKE it better, and give these kids what they are so sorely lacking in their families. Support. Thing is, HOW to do it?

    Posted by: Doc Marten | Jan 13, 2012 1:01:57 PM

  7. Isn't there a hotline distressed LGBT people can call? If they did so could there be a place for them to go, new place to live where they can sort things out in a positive atmosphere? Are there people willing to provide this who can be referenced through a/the hotline?
    It can only get better if a struggling young person can GET OUT of the situation he or she is in without having to live on the street. Practical measures are needed.

    Posted by: uffda | Jan 13, 2012 1:01:59 PM

  8. I am from the central valley of California about 30 minutes from Visalia. The central valley is not the place to grow up gay. I did not have the courage to come out as a teenager because of this and waited until I went off to graduate school in a different state. My heart goes out to the loved ones in his life.

    Posted by: ScottyNorq | Jan 13, 2012 1:21:09 PM

  9. I'm not sure anything could have saved this precious boy from the damage done by being brought up by parents who shattered him emotionally. Ethics founded on religion are a vestige of savagery and should have been thrown out with human sacrifice and watching people die in the Colosseum as entertainment.

    Posted by: Linda | Jan 13, 2012 1:24:43 PM

  10. you know, folks, there's nothing stopping any of YOU from making videos that detail HOW to make your life better.

    truly. i don't get the complaining about the It Gets Better campaign.

    rather than whining that people aren't giving the "right" messages, get off your ass and make your own video where you say what you feel needs to be said. that's the beauty of the campaign - anyone and everyone can make a video with a message of hope and guidance.

    so, what's stopping you from doing it? it would take precious time away from complaining about things?


    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jan 13, 2012 2:02:53 PM

  11. Let's perform an exorcism on the PARENTS! Get the name of that FUCKIN' teacher that stood by and did NOTHING while Eric was physically and verbally assaulted, and the name(s) of the students that tortured Eric thoughout his life. A HUGE billboard, with Eric's sweet face, right in front of the school as a constant reminder to this school's administration for doing NOTHING! It "Gets BETTER?!?" Hardly. Rest Eric. I'm so sad.

    Posted by: Jeff R. | Jan 13, 2012 2:26:13 PM

  12. Maybe as with Alcoholics Anon., the Trevor Project should encourage having sponsors, someone to go to, rely on when they're feeling engulfed.

    Posted by: Grego | Jan 13, 2012 5:06:41 PM

  13. KIWI - suicide can be a rather impulsive act with permanent consequences. Living a happy life takes not only encouragement, but experience, and time to know for oneself that things can, are, and will be different. Videos may be enough to inspire in the moment. The work and support to facilitate "better" takes more, in my opinion, than just a video.

    Posted by: TJ | Jan 13, 2012 6:15:25 PM

  14. Knowing that EricJames took his life makes his "It Gets Better" video haughtingly heartbreaking. One can not miss the devastation in his eyes as he recalls his history. "Invisible Creatures" has a beautiful message....love is love. I'm sorry that his parents are so misguided that they missed that point. I keep trying to understand the idea that a parent can hate their child for being gay. The home should be a safe haven for a kid, not another place where hate can smack them in the face. RIP Eric...you deserve peace.

    Posted by: RoBBin | Jan 13, 2012 8:30:27 PM

  15. "It gets better" is...inaccurate and inadequate. It gets easier to deal with the hate because to some degree you get used to it. It gets easier to deal with society as a whole because you learn how to avoid the haters, and because as you get older you have more choice in who you spend your time with. It gets easier to keep wearing the straight mask in many situations because you've gotten practiced at it. But it will never be easy to be LGBT until more of the hate and unintended cruelty aimed at LGBT people drops dramatically. These "it gets better" videos hold up hope for a brief moment until reality sets in again, and lifting someone's spirits briefly means their spirits can fall even farther the next time that happens. People need to be teaching coping skills, conflict resolution skills, awareness, responses to hate speech, and the like -- not just implying that it gets better somehow, without giving a clue how to *make* it get better.

    Posted by: AJ | Jan 13, 2012 8:39:32 PM

  16. This is so sad. I'm sick of hearing these tragic stories.

    I've also wondered what is the legal view on throwing your gay minor child out of the house. Are parents breaking the law when they do this? Can they be penalized? I realize the kid in question was 18, but I doubt the abuse started on his 18th birthday. This kid must have grown up in Hell.

    Does the law view exorcism of gay or lesbian-identified children as abuse? If it doesn't It damn well should. This poor boys disgusting family should be up on charges for mental torture and driving him to suicide.

    Do we need a specific law banning psychological torture by parents? I hear all these horror stories, but never anything about the parents getting into trouble.

    These horror stories about parents behaving in this way have to stop. If parents are psychologically abusing a gay child, can the child call "Child Protective Services?"

    Posted by: fanboi | Jan 13, 2012 9:25:36 PM

  17. This is so sad. This boy's story really gets to me. His parents should have never performed an exorism on him. I am christ follower not your typical Christian. I believe in my heart God made more than one sexual orientation and that he made each one beautiful in it's own special way. This boy was only 19. He had his whole life ahead of him. I know he was in pain and I know he must have felt this was the only way out but there are true Christians like me who believe everyone is beautiful....Brian was beautiful. He was making a difference. He was helping people and he is in Heaven. This just really makes me cry. Pain is hard to get through but it's possible. He was so special this truly is a tragedy.

    Posted by: Kerry | Jan 13, 2012 10:19:16 PM

  18. I messed up his name it's not Brian it's Eric. I'm really sorry about that

    Posted by: Kerry | Jan 13, 2012 10:22:53 PM

  19. Little Kiwi. That was an excellent and creative suggestion. It's the next logical step. You are emminently qualified to create such a supportive video and many of us would love to see you do it. Go ahead, I think you could upstage the whole "Better" issue and set an example at the same time.

    Posted by: uffda | Jan 14, 2012 12:47:18 AM

  20. How sad this young man felt this was the only way out, but as a person who suffers from depression I know what it feels like to believe your all alone in the world. I wish they had better more understanding school counslers at schools who could point these kids to a good psychologist or Therapist. That would help these kids even when their idiot evil parents turn their back on them. I hope he has found the peace and acceptance he desperately was trying to find.

    Posted by: classychazy | Jan 14, 2012 12:58:29 AM

  21. CLASSYCHAZY - as someone who has worked as as school counselor, I appreciate your advice. I also know about session limits due to budget constraints, and the limitations on referrals to outside therapists if the client has no insurance. "Better" takes time. There is only so much that one can do ethically, and practically. Peer counseling is helpful, to a degree (lord, the rape victims I have seen who have gone to peer counseling, only to be told some version of "Well, you shouldn't have... " As I continue to posit, "Better" takes time. So how do we support people in the midst of the struggle? Three sessions and you're on your own? Believing in hope takes more than just being told to do so.

    Posted by: TJ | Jan 14, 2012 3:29:26 AM

  22. The TP is only one step in a very long process. Connecting young people with mentors, who are supportive listeners will go a long way toward showing them "how" it gets better. As an earlier poster noted, "Better" is a journey; perhaps, as a community, LGBTs could step up to the plate and make ourselves available to guide a young person's life through the tumult that arises from the process of becoming an actualized adult. Showing them that the road won't (always) be easy, but supporting them on that journey will go a long way towards helping them survive it. We know that life isn't fair, let's teach the younger generation to not only get through it, but to thrive in spite of it.

    Posted by: GTMSJ | Jan 14, 2012 12:50:57 PM

  23. UFFDA, already did it. I've made a few, actually.

    the It gets Better campaign is what you make of it. and it's thus very easy for those of us who have a specific and applicable message of positive action to post a video ABOUT those specific positive actions.

    so, to all those who think it's a bad campaign, you don't have to "let it" be a bad one...you can easily make a video of yourself where you share the steps to making a better life that you feel other videos are not doing.

    and for what it's worth, with me totally oversharing, i was one of those young people who tried to take his life at age 11. why? i had no hope that life would ever get better. truly. the early 90s? the sea of fag jokes in film and tv, no presence, no visibility for children? that's where i was.

    it seems some people think that the campaign is 'bad' because "it's not enough" - well, nobody said it was the cure, nor that it was the ONLY thing to do. simply one of MANY things people should be doing.
    you can't hate the campaign. you can only hate yourself for not doing more.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Jan 14, 2012 1:10:36 PM

  24. KIWI - Thanks for expanding on your position. I hope I didn't come across as saying "It Gets Better" videos are of no value. I think that they can be very inspirational. But after inspiration comes action, and practice, and living the life enough to believe it. I think the idea of in-person mentoring is great. Also, for those who are really struggling, competent, long-term support through counseling.

    One of my frustrations in my two experiences counseling at universities was the failure of LGBT support groups to start - not enough participants. Individual counseling was always limited, and groups are seen as "cost effective" (as well as sometimes pretty amazing and effective therapeutic experiences). But the "out and proud" students didn't think they needed support (other than through "Pride" groups), and the others - some who could really use and benefit from counseling - were very reluctant to come forward and join a group.

    Anyway. In the spirit of over-sharing, let me just say that I am very glad you are still with us, and fighting the good fight.

    Posted by: TJ | Jan 14, 2012 2:17:12 PM

  25. Kiwi...it's true that you've done more and I'm glad I asked so that you could reference your videos which are energetic, funny, both sweet and sour, though largely positive and affirming, especially the one referencing the Mordan book How Long Has This Been Going On, and of course the Brother-Boyfriend card was apex chaming.

    Personally - don't be offended if you can keep from it - being gay is so far from my larger self or self-image that I could never immerse myself in it as you have. So far IT is actually your dominate calling and while my sarcastic self want's to call you a one trick pony that would be as out of line as to call a full time parent the same.

    If we don't all actually follow your lead you must know that we think about it, we are more awakened by you, that you must continue your public persona, and that it may well lead to something very big for you and for your cause. Of course it will.

    Posted by: uffda | Jan 14, 2012 2:27:22 PM

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