Just as Matthew Shepard once triggered a groundswell, Tyler Clementi is now a rallying cry for tolerance in the gay community, with celebrities and activists alike denouncing hate crimes and telling gay teens to just hang in there. "Things will get easier; people's minds will change," says a choked-up Ellen DeGeneres in a video. "And you should be alive to see it."
Clementi was among four teen suicides last month due to anti-gay bullying, what DeGeneres termed a "crisis." Former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey called for tolerance in a journey that "can be very painful and very lonely," and New Jersey lawmakers vowed to beef up the state's anti-bullying law. Clementi's death has also underscored sex columnist Dan Savage's It Gets Better Project, reports the AP, a series of videos by gay adults directed at teens. "To this poor kid, it's better to be dead than to have people know he's gay," says an activist. "Therein lies the real tragedy."