Family pay tribute to student who died by suicide after viral drag queen protest
The family of the student who died by suicide after a video of him leading a drag queen story time protest went viral have said that those who describe him as “deeply troubled” didn’t know him.
Around 15 to 20 students from the University of Queensland Liberal National Club protested at Brisbane Square Library, Australia, chanting “drag queens are not for kids”, on Sunday, January 12.
A video of the drag queen story time protest went viral, including the club’s conservative gay president Wilson Gavin, 21, who received a huge amount of backlash online.
Gavin was found dead at Chelmer Railway Station the next morning at 7:07am. Ambulance officers rushed to the scene, but said he died from critical injuries, Buzzfeed News reported.
Gavin’s parents and two sisters released a statement on Thursday, January 16, and responded to reports that he was “deeply troubled”.
They said: “To everyone who knew our son and brother and shared their stories of who Wilson Gavin really was – we thank you.
“To those who have described Wilson as ‘a deeply troubled young man’, including so-called family members – with all due respect – you never knew him.
“To anyone who is or was angry with Wilson – we know he regularly got the ‘how’ wrong and occasionally got the ‘what’ wrong. This made us angry with him too.”
They also addressed those who may have contributed to the backlash against Gavin online. They said: “To those who are now regretting words said or typed in anger that may have contributed to another person’s suffering – we know and share your pain all too well.”
Suggesting that there was more going on that online backlash, they added: “To young, politically motivated people of all persuasions – we implore you to seek kind and wise mentors who will guide you, and not use you or wash their hands of you when you no longer serve their purposes.”
Daily Mail Australia reported that Gavin was house sitting for a Coalition senator over the weekend before he passed away, although this has not been confirmed.
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The family continued: “To the LGBTIQA+ communities and Rainbow Families Queensland – we love and support you.
“To the employees of Queensland Rail and the commuters impacted by our son’s decision to end his life in the way that he did – words cannot express our sorrow for you.
“To the police and emergency services personnel who have treated us with such dignity and compassion, and work with this type of trauma far too often – you have our deepest respect and gratitude.
“We loved Wil for his compassion and sense of justice – just some of the many things he got right.”
They described Gavin as a “devoted and loving son and brother” and added: “We will love him, always and will be forever grateful he was part of our family.”
The student’s friend Drew Pavlou recently described Gavin as “the bullet-proof guy”, and added that his friend’s suicide was “the last thing you would have ever expected”.
If you are in the US and are having suicidal thoughts, suffering from anxiety or depression, or just want to talk, call the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255. If you are in the UK, you can contact the Samaritans on 116 123.
If you are in Australia, you can contact Lifeline at 13 11 14.