Update (5:55 p.m.): According to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, Maurice Willoughby’s death was the result of an overdose after his girlfriend Faith left him out of fear for her own life, not due to the bullying he suffered after discussing their relationship online.
“Reese’s suicide is not the time to discuss cis men who date trans women,” the organization wrote. “Faith went on Instagram Live to clarify that Reese actually died of an overdose after she left him. A heavy drug user, Reese threatened to take his life and Faith’s. She ran away to safety, and it was then that he committed suicide.
“Our deepest condolences to Faith and also to Reese’s family. This is a time to mourn for a lost life and support Faith during this difficult time in her life. She is a survivor of abuse and as stated on her Instagram page, a woman who lost her lover. Black women are always mourning and caring for the world while trying to keep ourselves alive. Our love and support to Faith.”
Original story (4:20 p.m.): A Philadelphia man who was captured in a viral video being bullied for his relationship with a transgender woman has died by suicide.
According to Aazios, 20-year-old Maurice Willoughby — also known as “Reese Him Daddie” — died after experiencing depression following the bullying.
Willoughby initially went viral for a Facebook post in which he discussed his girlfriend, Faith, who is trans.
“Y’all can say whatever about faith I really don’t care if she not passable I don’t care if she wasn’t born a woman she is a woman to me & I love her flaws that’s what makes her faith if you heard her story it’s motivating,” he said at the time. “I’m happy you should be happy for me.”
But after talking about his relationship, Willoughby was bullied both online and in real life, and ultimately featured in another viral video where he was verbally abused for being with a transgender woman.
In the video, men surround and film Willoughby, shouting, “You fuck what? You fuck what?”
Willoughby’s friends said that the bullying took its toll, ultimately ending in tragedy.
“That was my friend and everyone who took part in [bullying] him need to be in jail,” Amethyst Jade Lee wrote on Facebook, according to The Advocate.
One friend, who asked to remain anonymous, told Aazios that Willoughby was “getting picked on and joked on all the time.”
“Where we are from, if you like trans woman, and you black, the streets will talk about you, fight you, even try to kill you,” they said. “He was dealing with a lot.”
Journalist and activist Ashlee Marie Preston, the first openly trans person to become editor-in-chief of a national publication, lamented that Willoughby was bullied for loving a transgender woman.
“When a man is confident & secure enough to openly love a trans woman; this is the bullying and harassment he gets,” she wrote. “When trans attracted men kill us; it’s out of fear that this will happen to them if they are outed. Reese didn’t kill his girlfriend; he killed himself instead. #RIP”
When a man is confident & secure enough to openly love a trans woman; this is the bullying and harassment he gets. When trans attracted men kill us; it’s out of fear that this will happen to them if they are outed. Reese didn’t kill his girlfriend; he killed himself instead. #RIP pic.twitter.com/P4el3duZGZ
— Ashlee Marie Preston (@AshleeMPreston) August 20, 2019
Writer, producer, director, and trans activist Janet Mock tweeted that her “heart breaks for Reese, for his girlfriend, and their loved ones.”
“These men screaming at him are beyond fragile, standing on a shaky altar of masculinity, too insecure to do what Reese did: Unapologetically love a woman who everyone says is unworthy of love,” Mock wrote.
My heart breaks for Reese, for his girlfriend, and their loved ones. These men screaming at him are beyond fragile, standing on a shaky altar of masculinity, too insecure to do what Reese did: Unapologetically love a woman who everyone says is unworthy of love. https://t.co/9G31RbQ2cj
— Janet Mock (@janetmock) August 21, 2019
Model, activist and musician Yves Mathieu paid tribute to Willoughby on his Instagram page, noting that more has to be done for acceptance of transgender people.
“Over the weekend Reese killed himself after the relentless taunting, bullying, mocking and disrespect he received after publicly proclaiming his love for his girl, and you know what breaks me about this? Is that when it comes to discussing the weight of transphobia and homophobia in the black community, especially amongst those who should speak up on it, all you hear is crickets?” Mathieu wrote. “It’s no secret that every community has its issues no matter how beautiful the painted picture is, but damn we oppressed people are still out here oppressing our own people?
“Don’t say black lives matter if that bracket doesn’t include black trans people and mental health in the black community,” he added.
Mathieu noted that Willoughby had previously sent him a direct message on Instagram, but “when I responded I never got a response back.”
“This is garbage, and this hurts, Reese I’m so sorry, Faith, I’m so sorry, I lové you, I lové ya’ll, we lové you, we lové ya’ll,” he continued. “This is so trash, and I hate everything about this. IGNORANCE , HATRED AND TOXIC MASCULINITY KILLED OUR BROTHER. Rest in all power family, a lot of our sisters are up there with you.”