Bekett NobleAge 34
23 Nov 2022
Ancaster, Ontario (Canada)
Bekett died by suicide. Their pronouns were they/them.
As Redeemer University student Bekett Noble was in the throes of taking their own life, they left behind a heart-rending, urgent appeal for the rest of the public to take up their fight to protect LGBTQ+ rights within the community.
In an email sent to various community members, along with Redeemer officials and staff, hours before Noble passed away on the university campus Nov. 23, they stated the “ultimate goal would be a culture shift (at Redeemer) where students no longer feel protected in homophobic and transphobic treatment of other students.”
Noble’s crusade to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ students at the university shouldn’t be allowed to be forgotten, said Olive Moody, a friend of Noble’s and a fifth-year Redeemer student.
“As Bekett said, people will not change if they aren’t given the opportunity to show how their actions have affected the lives of those around them,” said Moody, during a Dec. 18 vigil on the steps of Hamilton City Hall attended by more than 350 people. “This has been a hard loss on all of us,”
Ancaster resident Megg Markettos, who considered Noble, 34, one of her family members, read Noble’s email to a hushed crowd. “Bekett was a dear friend, a family member (an aunt to her four daughters), said Markettos, who acknowledged there is “a lot of anger” within the community. “The way Bekett wants (the fight for LGBTQ+ rights) is with love.”
Markettos then played the song “Crazy” by Lost Frequencies and Zonderling, which Bekett and Markettos’ daughters had transformed into their own special anthem, and encouraged the crowd to join in and dance.
The university, said the statement, is conducting a “thorough review so we can understand the circumstances around this tragedy.” The university said it has made “important commitments to mental health” and is launching the mental health task force with a student group that includes representation from student government and members of marginalized groups on campus, such as LGBTQ+ and students who are Black, Indigenous and people of colour.
In their email, Noble urged Redeemer officials to create safe spaces where “marginalized groups of all kids can go and feel safe and those who would oppose them or make them feel unsafe are unwelcome in that one space.” Noble referenced Mohawk College’s Social Inc. as a possible model to follow.
Noble demanded that if a queer student makes a complaint about homophobic or transphobic behaviour at the university, it needs to be treated “very seriously and have real consequences for the perpetrator” rather than being ignored.
Noble also suggested training staff and faculty in trauma-informed care of marginalized populations and improved counselling for marginalized students. They said the original counselling service that Redeemer offered was eliminated.
“That was my last lifeline and when it got cut with no talk about how it might be able to exist again that was the beginning of the end,” stated Noble.
Moody, a member of the Genesis club at Redeemer University founded by Noble, said it was created to provide a “place of community, conversation and compassion. Genesis was created to provide a wider awareness of the queer community. A space for diverse voices to break ground at Redeemer.”
Moody said Genesis will “stand firm” to break ground and “lean into the discomfort of what it means to be Christian in a queer space.”
The university said in a statement it is continuing “to engage regularly with LGBTQ+ students on campus to ensure an environment of care, dignity and respect for all students as we work out our Christian mission.”
Karol De Stefano of Free Moms Hugs, which organized the vigil and asked people to wear the rainbow colours on behalf of Noble, said far too many LGBTQ+ students are facing life and death decisions because of the negative way institutions are confronting them.
“They have every right to be treated just like everybody else in the school community,” said De Stefano, as she yelled for the gathering to shout out Bekett Noble’s name. “Why are so many LGBTQ+ students not offered supports and security to be themselves?”
De Stefano referenced the attack at Gage Park in 2019 against LGBTQ+ Pride participants as a frightening reminder of what the queer and trans community have to be afraid of in Hamilton. Three years later, the LGBTQ+ community remains under attack, she said, such as Drag Storytime at Hamilton library branches being met with protests.
“We are here to magnify Bekett’s words and call for action to lead by their example,” said De Stefano. “Bekett left with a plan for action. It is us now picking up the baton.”
The vigil ended with the crowd singing to Blue Rodeo’s “Lost Together” and a minute of silence in remembrance of Noble.
“It didn’t have to come to suicide, to losing a student, but it did,” stated Noble in their email to the community. “Don’t let it happen again.”
Bekett's Instagram profile is https://www.instagram.com/bekettnoble/.