The president of the University of Queensland’s Liberal National Club has been found dead a day after leading a protest against a drag storytime event in a Brisbane library.
Wilson Gavin’s death was confirmed on Monday afternoon. It is suspected that he died by suicide in the early hours of Monday morning.
Over the weekend, a video of Gavin and other students staging a protest against drag storytime went viral. Two performers were confronted by the Liberal National Club president and the group yelling “Drag queens are not for kids” at the Brisbane Square Library.
The drag performers spoke out against the student’s protest as it upset many of the children present. Diamond Good-Rim said, “UQ Liberal National Club this is absolutely disgusting, for what you did, to come into a room full of young children and there family’s and upset the children was disgusting.”
After video footage of the protestors went viral, the Liberal National Club faced widescale backlash as their Facebook page was flooded with comments voicing opposition to the group. Other students and MPs, including the Brisbane National party MP Trevor Evans and the LNP councillor Vicki Howard, expressed their disapproval.
Following the announcement of the student’s death, Rainbow Families Queensland, organisers of the library event, stated, “We are deeply saddened by this news and extend our sympathies to his family. Wilson Gavin was known publicly to be an out gay man.”
The group further state, “LGBTQ+ people are at a high risk of suicide and this is why we strongly advocate for the Safe schools program, drag storytime, and other LGBTQ+ events, so that members of our community grow up strong and proud of who they are.”
Despite the controversy surrounding Gavin’s death, there has been an outpouring of condolences towards the tragic passing. Many are decrying the culture of social media, claiming it was the reason behind the loss, while others have spoken out about the high rate of suicide in the LGBT+ community. However, there have also been requests to remove politics from the incident.
Gavin’s friend and a UQ senator, Drew Pavlou, wrote on Twitter, “Away from the social media storms and headlines, he was at his core a very decent and kind person that cared for others. I had the great privilege of seeing that side of him in life. He was hilarious, a complete riot to be around.”
I was friends with Wilson. Away from the social media storms and headlines, he was at his core a very decent and kind person that cared for others. I had the great privilege of seeing that side of him in life. He was hilarious, a complete riot to be around
— Drew Pavlou (@DrewPavlou) January 13, 2020
Pavlou further wrote, “He had his struggles and made mistakes, and it is a tragedy for us all that he ultimately succumbed to his suffering and pain. Today is a reminder of all we must do to affirm to young marginalized Australians the intrinsic worth and value of their lives.”
The Anglican Parish of Gosford shared the following tribute to the student’s death on Facebook, “Sadly, Wilson belonged to a demographic where suicide is all too common. He was gay. The incidence of self-harm among the LGBTIQA community is significantly higher than in the wider society. This is due, in no small part, to the diminishing of one’s soul caused by bullying, exclusion, otherising and a thousand and one other things that are inflicted upon members of society who don’t quite fit the mould that the domination system has created.”
Further stating on Facebook, Fr. Rod wrote, “We can only imagine how hard Wilson had tried to fit into that mould, even to the extent of arguing against his own human rights by opposing Marriage Equality. What subtle, and not-so-subtle messaging had he needed to process about his very essence. How many jokes made at his own expense had he felt the need to laugh at.”
Speaking to the Washington Post, one of the drag queens at the event, Johnny Valkyrie said, “To me, this incident transcends politics. It is about humanity, and about recognizing that everybody has it. I only wish I could tell him I love and support him.”
If you were affected by any of the issues highlighted in this article you can reach out to the following:
T: 1890 929 539 | W: www.lgbt.ie
TENI Helpline (Transgender Support)
T: 085 147 7166 | W: www.teni.ie
T: 01-872 1055 | W: www.gayswitchbaord.ie
T: 116 123
T: 1800 247 247
For those living in Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline can be contacted at 131114.
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