Former pastor who shared his coming out and mental health struggles to help others tragically dies
Former pastor Glenn Stephen “Steve” Austin, who spoke openly about his coming out and mental health battles, has tragically died in an apparent suicide.
Austen died at the age of 38 on Sunday (6 June). He leaves behind his wife Lindsey, two children, parents, brothers and many friends and family members.
Austin had been reported missing from Alabaster on Saturday (5 June), police said, and his death is being investigated as a suicide.
A GoFundMe campaign has been launched for Austin’s family, which has raised over $36,000 thus far. According to the campaign, Austin survived a previous suicide attempt aged 29 and sought help for his mental health struggles.
Religion News Service (RNS) reported that Austin dedicated his life to sharing his story and helping others. He has written several books about his experiences as a former pastor, his mental health battle and his faith. Austin also hosted a podcast and partnered with churches to foster inclusivity.
Austin also recently came out as queer on his Substack newsletter. He shared that he “lived in fear of God or anyone else knowing my deepest truth”, and he tried to “deny my true self and be someone completely different”.
Steve Austin wrote: “But if you can’t accept me fully, as I am, you don’t deserve even a slice of me.
“Because I’m a whole person. Three-dimensional and extremely complex.
“So I will no longer tell just one little piece of my story, hoping to be completely accepted. I refuse to keep hiding in the pews.”
He said that coming out as queer is “much more about identity than acting on sexual desire or curiosity”. Instead, he said it was “much more about the soul” of the individual than the “physical act of sex”.
Robert Vore, who co-hosts the CXMH podcast, told RNS that he and some of Austin’s other friends had become worried about him in recent days. Vore shared that he will miss Austin’s “relentless belief in other people and his laughter”.
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“He had one of the biggest hearts I had ever encountered, especially for people going through hard times,” Vore said.
Dr Holly Oxhandler, Vore’s co-host and an associate dean at the Diana Garland School of Social Work at Baylor University, said Austin could “sense when others needed joy or hope” or “compassion”.
“And he was so good at reminding people of the image of God within them,” Oxhandler said.
The GoFundMe campaign said that the funds will go towards Steve Austin’s wife and children as “they navigate the difficult weeks and months ahead”. In a post on the GoFundMe, Lindsey wrote that her “heart is overwhelmed with the outpouring of love in such a tangible way”.
“Your generosity says ‘Lindsey, we see you and we care deeply about you and the kids’,” she explained. “This fundraiser has impacted my life in the most meaningful way.”
Suicide is preventable. Readers who are affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact Samaritans on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org), or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). Readers in the US are encouraged to contact the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255.