I knew Luke Nugent in 7th grade, when I still attended Carl Junction schools. I can easily see how he could be made an easy target of bullying or harassment. I always hated riding the 'shuttle buses' from the Jr. High to to elementary. I was surrounded by crude teens, teens that knew no tolerance or respect. I always drowned them out with headphones. The reason that I could see Luke as a target of theirs was that he was different. He stuck out. (For me, in an admirable way.) He was always making intelligent, quirky comments or jokes. He wore a belt that flashed his name across it. As for his sexual orientation; I heard him once say that he was bisexual during a DI convention while chatting with a girl from another region.
Now as for how I see his bullying at CJ almost certain- this boy was amazing. As I said, he was smart. He had friends. People who loved him. He laughed and joked, and he cared for the well being of others. He didn't just go off and kill himself for nothing. There had to have been something else.
Now, recalling the past, when I moved to CJ in 4th grade, I was bullied quite harshly. I was a new, strange girl in a small town. I was kicked from my chair, tripped when running, called an asshole. When I tried to speak to others about something I was told to shut up, often before I'd even uttered two words. My curiosity was laughed at. And nobody helped. It seemed that my hurt was invisible to everyone around me. It got better through the years, yet I knew that underneath the people who bullied me, that anger and bitterness was still there.
As for claims that he was bullied on his sexual orientation; it's possible. How much, I cannot say. I can, however, recall from my past experiences at this school for relation to the possibility. I remember rumors spread about me when I cut short my hair, rumors that I was lesbian. They weren't vicious, yet it seemed very strange. It was only a haircut, so why did people need to quip about my 'orientation'? Why would it even matter if I were lesbian?
Another recollection is of the heavy religious influence upon the people in CJ. I can definitely understand how discrimination would fall upon poor Luke if he identified as bi or gay. Religion was common in the classroom, from students telling me to "Accept Jesus" to teachers with religiously influenced teachings. I wasn't a very large, open thing, but a thing that you knew was weaved into the patchwork of the deal.
Luke Nugent also identified as an atheist.
I remember protecting my friend on the bus. She'd said something about not believing in god and it started a storm. All of a sudden a pair of siblings in the seat in front of me pulled out a bible, looking for verses. Suggestions rang out from behind me. "It's the best life you can live..." quipped a boy.
I moved to Texas the summer following Luke's death. I still talk to my best friend who attends these schools. She says that, as openly lesbian, she encounters countless homophobic comments. She has said that she's even been pushed aside, against the lockers.
I don't know how this will help or who will see this, but whoever does, I can tell you now that something was going on. Something that killed the inside of my beautiful, beautiful friend. The boy with the Chuck Norris Jokes and wild dances, the boy with brilliance.
I call for justice in a small town.