CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Friends and community members are today mourning the passing of a local transgender youth activist, Blake Brockington, who died as the result of suicide overnight.
Brockington, 18, was a 2014 graduate of East Mecklenburg High School where, last year, he was nominated and later crowned homecoming king as an openly transgender student after winning a fundraising competition and drawing in $2,335.55 for a charity chosen by the school. Brockington’s homecoming win is believed to be the first for an openly transgender student in Charlotte.
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 in Charlotte 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.
Brockington’s death was confirmed and announced publicly Tuesday morning by Time Out Youth Center, a local LGBT youth services agency where Brockington received support.
The center is working to ensure other youth and staff receive needed support. Executive Director Rodney Tucker said youth members and clients had been at their center since 9 a.m. Tuesday morning. A counselor was on hand to speak with staff and available to youth and clients throughout the day.
Brockington’s death is the second such local incident in recent weeks.
Young activist wanted change
In the year since his homecoming win and graduation, Brockington became an outspoken advocate, speaking at last year’s Transgender Day of Remembrance event and organizing public rallies and other grassroots campaigns to raise awareness on police brutality and violence. In one action in December, Brockington led activists in a brief shut down of Independence Square at Trade & Tryon Sts., followed by an impromptu march through Uptown. He and other activists also planned and coordinated a similar action at SouthPark Mall during the Christmas shopping season.
Brockington, who came out as transgender in his sophomore year of high school, was active in East Meck’s band where he served as drum major for two years. He also played on a student club rugby team.
East Mecklenburg High School teacher Martha Deiss, whom Brockington had for a civics and economics course his sophomore year, said last year that he was one of her brightest students.
“A great student,” Deiss said of Brockington. “Always had the highest grades.”
His homecoming victory, he told qnotes at the time, was a way to build awareness and support for other transgender students.
“I honestly feel like this is something I have to do,” Brockington said last year, noting few other transgender male students have had the opportunity.
Brockington said at the time that winning will mean the most for several younger transgender students he had mentored, including a nine-year-old boy.
“He really looks up to me. That’s my heart,” Brockington said of his mentee. “He has support now and he will be able to avoid just about everything I’m going through and I don’t want him to ever have to be scared. I feel like if I do this, that’s one red flag for everybody to say, ‘Nobody should be scared to be themselves and everybody should have an equal opportunity to have an enjoyable high school experience.’”
But the homecoming win came with a price, Brockington told The Charlotte Observer earlier this year.
“That was single-handedly the hardest part of my trans journey,” Brockington told the daily newspaper. “Really hateful things were said on the Internet. It was hard. I saw how narrow-minded the world really is.”
He had a strong message for the public — “we are still human.”
“I’m still a person,” Brockington said. “And trans people are still people. Our bodies just don’t match what’s up (in our heads). We need support, not people looking down at us or degrading us or overlooking us. We are still human.”
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.