CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The doors to Time Out Youth Center, a local LGBT youth services agency, remained open all day Tuesday as youth, clients, community members and others who knew youth activist Blake Brockington filed in for support and fellowship.
Brockington, 18, died overnight Monday as the result of a suicide. News of his passing spread quickly through the local and national LGBT and activist communities, where Brockington had been known for his advocacy work over the past year. His death was confirmed and announced publicly by Time Out Youth on Tuesday morning.
Brockington first came to local and national attention last February, when he became the first openly transgender student to win a homecoming king competition at his school, East Mecklenburg High School. In the year since, Brockington took on racial and other social justice issues, including police brutality and violence.
Counselors were on hand at Time Out Youth Center on Tuesday and remained all day while community members brought food and offered their support. Staff at the center have been available to youth and clients on Wednesday, as well.
After sunset Tuesday evening, two dozen friends and acquaintances of Brockington joined Time Out Youth staff for an impromptu moment of silence and remembrance. They stood encircling notes of love and remembrance written in sidewalk chalk in the center’s parking lot, some of the messages reading, “Blake you will be missed,” “Blake we love u,” “My brother” and “You are loved.”
During the silence, youth lit a sky lantern sending it into the night sky.
“Thank you for being a part of the space today and being here to support one another,” O’Neale Atkinson, Time Out Youth’s director of youth programs, told those gathered. “None of us have to do this alone. We’re all here to support each other.”
Atkinson later added: “If you need each other, lean on each other. We love you. We’re here for you. Be kind to one another. Love one another.”
Two friends of Brockington briefly shared their thoughts and memories. One remembered first meeting Brockington in middle school.
“Blake had the most beautiful smile ever,” the youth shared, saying Brockington could brighten anyone’s day. “I’d be walking through the hallways and I’d see Blake and he would smile and I’d say today is going to be a good day; Blake just smiled. He would make your day a lot better.”
Community members across the city and nation have responded to Brockington’s passing with an outpouring of grief and support. Regional and national outlets have reported the news, with thousands of people sharing their thoughts, prayers, memories and condolences via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and elsewhere. National transgender celebrities and leaders Janet Mock and Laverne Cox also shared a message of condolence, saying “Rest in power” on their Twitter profiles.
Arrangements for Brockington’s funeral were announced by family on Wednesday. A service will be held this Saturday, March 28, 2015, Noon, at Nazarene Baptist Church, 4383 Savannah Highway, in Ravenel, S.C. The Rev. Wilford Waring will officiate. Interment is private. The family will not hold a viewing.
Friends of Brockington and others at Time Out Youth are planning a community memorial event, likely to be planned for next Saturday, April 4; further details will be announced soon.
qnotes will provide updates as they become available.
Those youth in need of support are encouraged to contact Time Out Youth,timeoutyouth.org, 704-344-8335. Their center is located at 2320-A N. Davidson St. They are open Tuesday and have staff and counselors available.
Those youth in need of immediate support can call the Trevor Project helpline at 1-866-488-7386 or access resources online at thetrevorproject.org.