Nigel Shelby, the 15-year-old Alabama student who took his own life, was laid to rest on Saturday (27 April) and buried in a rainbow-adorned casket.
Shelby died on 19 April after facing alleged homophobic bullying at his school, Huntsville High School.
‘We are heartbroken over the death of Nigel Shelby,’ wrote local organization Rocket City Pride. ‘Nigel took his life because he was bullied for being gay. There are no words that can be said to make sense of this devastating news.’
A GoFundMe page was set up to help Shelby’s mother cover the funeral expenses. It initally began with a goal of $10,000 before surpassing that to hit $14,000. The goal increased to $26,000 and nearly 1,000 people raised $39,773 (€35,526) in 12 days.
Celebrities like Gabrielle Union, Dwyane Wade, Lena Waithe, Janelle Monáe, and more donated.
A rainbow-filled celebration of life
At Shelby’s memorial service over the weekend, his loved ones laid him to rest in a decorated casket. Photos of him, butterflies, and a pastel rainbow covered the casket.
Friends and family in attendance also worse rainbow colors.
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) April 30, 2019
Pinky Cole, a chef who led the fundraising efforts for Shelby’s funeral, posted a photo of the program from the service.
‘Today I got the opportunity to celebrate the life of Nigel Shelby,’ she wrote.
‘I pray that no other child will ever have to endure what this young baby dealt with. We gotta love on our own! Check on your friends and loved ones. You never know what someone is going through.’
Remembered for more
Shelby is survived by his parents, father Patrick Cruz and mother Camika Shelby.
‘I don’t want him to be remembered as a kid who was bullied for being gay and who took his own life,’ his mother said. ‘He was so much more than that.’
Two years before his death, Shelby came out to his mother and she told him she would never turn her back on him.
According to his obituary, Shelby loved theater and history.
He ‘spent many years in band where he played the clarinet, trumpet, and drums’ and had dreams of being an entertainer.
‘Most of all,’ the obituary continued, ‘he wanted to be an activist for the LGBTQ+ community.‘