Earlier this year we reported on Camika Shelby tragically losing her son Nigel Shelby to suicide due to anti-gay bullying. She has now made it her mission to ensure other families don’t have to go through the pain of that loss. Through her work with LGBTQ youth, she’s striving to foster support of these young people.
The New York Daily News reports that Camika’s latest initiative was to speak to LGBTQ POC youth in Alabama. Camika was the main speaker during a Christmas event that supports LGBTQ youth.
Camika had this to say: “Don’t let people tear you down for who you are. God knows who you are, and he makes no mistakes. Growing up, it was hard for him. People didn’t really accept him, but I always knew who my baby was.”
Camika encouraged the audience to find acceptance and love. “Sometimes family can be your own worst enemy. If they don’t love you for who you are, they don’t deserve you.” Al.com reports that Camika is focusing on ‘making something good come from her son’s death.’ She doesn’t want Nigel to be remembered as a boy who lost his life to suicide. Rather, she wants him to be remembered for helping to change the world.
Jonece Starr Duningan said on Twitter that “20 Black LGBTQ teens are going to get gift cards, self-care kits, and be introduced to mentors who can provide LGBTQ inclusive mentors.” Dunnigan also said, “The event is being held in honor of Nigel Shelby, an openly gay teen who died by suicide in April in Huntsville. His mother, Camika, is going to speak encouraging words to the audience during the event.”
One of the mentors, Jarvis Ward, lost their friend Joshua to suicide in 2012 because of bullying. Ward said that their family accepted them as gay, but ‘the streets didn’t.’
Daroneshia Duncan, founder of resource center for Trans WOC and executive director for Trans United also spoke at the event and discussed how important it is to support Black Trans youth. She said her mother gave her that support by telling her everyday to be ‘the best we can be.’
If you are an LGBTQ youth in crisis or you know an LGBTQ youth in crisis reach out to The Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386. You can also text and chat with them on their website.