By Rita Bratovich
The morning of Sunday January 12 should have been filled with joy and love for a group of rainbow families who had come to Brisbane Square Library for a Drag Queen Story Time reading.
Drag queens, Queeny (Johnny Valkyrie) and Diamond Good-Rim looked like they had stepped right off the page of a picture book and the group of young children gathered around them wanted to believe they had.
But the magical mood was broken when a group of intruders disrupted the event and relentlessly chanted “drag queens are not for kids”. Children started crying, parents were upset and the pointless sabotage did nothing but stir up a social media maelstrom.
The intruders were young male and female members of University of Queensland Liberal National Club, led by Wilson Gavin.
It wan’t the first time Gavin had found himself under the hot light of controversy. During the Marriage Equality campaign, the then 19 year old, openly gay Gavin appeared on Sky News expressing his opposition to same-sex marriage.
Gavin was brought up in a loving, diligently Catholic family, and espoused conservative right-wing politics. On outward appearance, he seemed comfortable with what might be considered an incongruity between his sexuality and his beliefs. It also seemed that the people around him accepted him.
Yet, early in the morning, the day after the incident in the library, Wilson Gavin took his own life.
The sudden, very tragic suicide of 21 year old Wilson Gavin left many people stunned and confused.
His behaviour mere hours before had evinced raw anger, condemnation and deep hurt from people in the LGBTQI community and their supporters.
These same people now had to deal with conflicted emotions; they had to find equilibrium between their heads and their hearts. The Star Observer also felt this conflict. We had to find a balance between objectivity and sensitivity; between freedom of expression and responsible curation.
Social media allows people to be spontaneous, unguarded, indifferent, and we certainly saw the worst that unmitigated spite produces. Overwhelmingly, however, the comments and discussions exhibited genuine sympathy, sadness and respect for Wilson Gavin and his family.
For a community that suffers frequent endless assault and abuse, this incident could have presented a chance to gloat. But we showed, for the most part, dignity, restraint, and understanding.
Wilson Gavin was as much a victim as a villain. A gay man with religious convictions, conservative values, and a deep need for acceptance, living in a society that does not easily allow that combination to work.
There will be analysis, discussion, hopefully positive action as a result of this event.
Let’s not let yet another life be lost in vain.
If you or anyone you know needs help or support, please contact:
Lifeline on 13 11 14
Suicide Callback Service on 1300 659 467
Qlife on 1800 184 527