Wilson Gavin, a victim of the culture war
Shock waves as protester against a drag queen performance dies
Shock waves at the death of Wilson Gavin, a 21-year-old-student and Young Liberal who led a protest against a drag queen reading for children at the Brisbane City Library, have dominated social media in the past few days.
His taking his own life came after some savage attacks on social media when the protest became a story and video that went viral. His critics were outraged by his participation in the demonstration against the drag performers.
“He was a very sincere person, a very intelligent articulate person,” says conservative Christian blogger David Pellowe, who became friends with him after interviewing him, and continued to chat with him online. “He was very warm and friendly and easy to like. We weren’t close friends, but I did consider him a friend and vice versa.”
Gavin was strongly religious, according to Pellowe. “A deeply devoted Catholic man – he dearly loved his church and his Catholic faith.
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“Things he communicated to me privately about the tensions about his feelings of same-sex attraction and his Catholic faith indicated to me that he took his faith very seriously.”
Pellowe tells Eternity: “He was 19 at the time we had serious conversations about it, and I think he was working through the issues. There are a lot of 19-year-olds who are working through their relationship with God.”
Gavin was one of a small group of gay men who campaigned for a “no” vote in the postal survey on marriage. At 19 he told Pellowe ““They’re not going to stop at marriage. Their goal is to tear down the family and every traditional institution in Australia. They just hate everything that I love – they hate me because I’m a conservative. And they hate me more because I’m a gay, and I can say to them, ‘I’m gay. I’m not a homophobe, I love gay men! You can’t call me a homophobe just because I oppose same sex marriage, just because I’m against your agenda. You can’t shout me down the way you can most people. You can’t shout me down by saying I’m a bigot and I’m a homophobe.”
The news that Gavin had committed suicide shocked Pellowe. “Absolutely. I wanted it to be a mistake.”
Asked to describe how Gavin should be remembered, Pellowe responds “He was a man of conviction, and a man of compassion. However his detractors would like to reframe it. The truth is that he, motivated by love of neighbour felt the need to intervene in the injustice he saw being promoted. And he did that without hating anybody individually. We all hate evil and bad ideas – and that should not extend to hatred of people who disagree with us.”
Gavin will also be remembered as a victim of the social media age, with debate about causes easily becoming attacks on individuals. The sudden switch from outrage at the demonstration to the report of his death has been a struggle for many to deal with, conservative or progressive. Conservative MP George Christensen responded by leaving twitter’.
“Suicide happens when Twitter keyboard warriors pile on an individual for a political protest. Twitter is broken. It is for ad hominem attacks & pile ons not real discourse. And it is aid & abetted by the media. I can’t delete the media but I am deleting my twitter account. Bye.
Library Drag performer Johnny Valkyrie facebooked ““My heart goes out to the family and friends. If the family are reading this, please know I support you.”
Lifeline (13 11 14)