B.C. students' anti-bullying video goes viral
Penny Daflos, ctvbc.ca
Published Sunday, September 25, 2011 7:35PM PDT
Three B.C. university students are attracting international attention for re-invigorating an anti-bullying campaign started in the United States.
It started when Sara Nazeman struck up an online friendship with Jamey Rodemeyer.
"I saw a lot of intense posts that he did," Nazeman said. "He was really sad sometimes."
The 14 year-old teen from New York had posted a YouTube video in support of gay and lesbian youth as part of the "It Gets Better" project. In it, Rodemeyer talks about being bullied for his lack of male friends, but encourages viewers to cheer up, insisting that his life got better after coming out as bisexual in May.
His family thought the video indicated a positive turning point in his life, but Rodemeyer shocked both them and his friends when he killed himself last Sunday.
"I was in complete shock. I think everyone was," remembers Nazeman. "I had to act upon it and do something about it. He was so young."
So Nazeman contacted Jason Bring and Ines Mitchell. They'd all become friends over their mutual adoration for Lady Gaga -- a passion they shared with Rodemeyer.
"We knew we had to do something," said Bring.
"We came up with the video concept and got everyone together," adds Mitchell.
So the trio recruited their blog followers to send video messages encouraging other gay teens considering suicide to find help and think about how their deaths would affect others. It also includes messages of love for Rodemeyer.
The 5-minute, 22-second video has gone viral since it was posted Thursday, thanks in part to promotion from other high-profile websites including PerezHilton.com. "Paws up Forever" has more than 40,000 views, and is continuing to gain steam.
"Paws Up" is a reference to Lady Gaga, and is a type of salute between her fans. The songstress has tweeted that she intends to meet with US president Obama to bring about anti-bullying legislation in the US that would see bullying considered a type of hate crime.
Nazeman, Bring and Mitchell hope the pop diva sees the video and their efforts to curb bullying.
"I hope that it saves peoples lives and maybe someone who is contemplating suicide, they'll rethink by watching this video," Nazeman said. "Maybe someone who is a bully will watch it and see how it affects people and they'll stop bullying."
To watch the students' "Paws Up Forever" video, click here.