Dishonoring A Death

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This popped up on Facebook today, and I have to say, I’m a bit appalled.

A Facebook friend provides the narrative:

“Struggles with his faith” may have been “an indirect cause, at least,” says one activist. This wasn’t some youngster that had been bullied. This was a 38 year old man. The Mormon Church has blood on its hands…

Now, the actual headline reads:

Gay Mormon Man’s Suicide Points Up Tensions

Does it?

As friends mourn the death of Chris Wayne Beers, a gay man and former Mormon missionary and church employee who took his own life Sunday, some are noting tensions between LGBT people and the church, which opposes gay relationships.

OK… But do those “some” have a direct connection to Chris Beers? The article continues:

Utah native Beers, 38, had worked in the missionary and travel departments for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, according to a Web posting by Affirmation, a group working for LGBT equality within the LDS church. At the time of his death he was employed by the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City.

Mitch Mayne, a gay man who serves as executive secretary of the church’s Bay Ward in San Francisco, commented on Beers’s death in a Facebook posting. He did not know Beers but had been in contact with a friend of his, he noted, before saying, “While struggles with his faith may not have been the direct reason he took his own life, I’m hard pressed to imagine that there isn’t an indirect cause, at least. If we, as Mormons, did what we were supposed to do for all of our brothers and sisters — love them unconditionally — Chris would never have been stripped of his family of faith. He would not have been forced to choose. He would have had a deeper, richer and more spiritual support network to walk him through what life brought his way. Sadly, like many, he was given the ‘Sophie’s Choice:’ live life according to a heterocentric cultural practice and do so alone, without a partner — or live life without your family of faith and the strength of that spiritual community.

Project much?

I’m sorry, but this is very weak. There is no indication in the article that he was very devout, or that his family had dis-owned him. The main interview of the article didn’t even know the guy. Mitch Mayne does not give any indication of knowing any of the details of this mans life. The statement “While struggles with his faith may not have been the direct reason he took his own life, I’m hard pressed to imagine that there isn’t an indirect cause, at least.” mean he’s grasping at straws and trying to make a martyr of the guy.

On his memorial page, there is a reference to the fact that his own brother Jeff had also passed away. That could be just as much or more of a weight on Mr Beers than the conflict between church and being gay.

If close friends come to the fore and say Beers was troubled by religious conflict, then there is validity to the slant of the Advocate article. Otherwise, it’s just advocacy extremism. It would be just as bad if you committed suicide, and some religious advocate came out and said, without verification, that you offed yourself because you couldn’t deal with the sin of being gay, without giving solid evidence that that was the case.

While it is certainly possible that his religion created personal conflict, nothing in this article provides any evidence, other than the fact that he was a Mormon. I suggest people get all the facts before you try to make this guy a martyr. Otherwise, you dishonor him in death.


Hell, we don’t even really know if he was gay.


Full disclosure – I’m agnostic, and gay, so I don’t have a dog in this fight, except to maybe not contribute to the distorting of a dead mans reputation.

PS. Upon reflection – I do have a bit of a dog in this fight. My Mates family is Mormon, but have treated me with great respect. Not all religious families are freaked out about homosexuality. So much of this hostility toward Mormons goes to their opposition to same sex marriage. As far as that goes, I respect their right to fight for what they believe in, just as I have the right to fight for my own beliefs. My side got overconfident and lazy in the fight against Proposition 8, and paid the price. We figured it could never pass here.  We are as much at fault for its passing as the other side is responsible for getting it passed.


3 Comments to “Dishonoring A Death”

  1. By ExMoHoMoDon, March 24, 2012 @ 5:12 am

    Since you are no more in possession of the facts than anyone else, and, as you say you don’t have a ‘dog in this fight’, then your speculative post is no more relevant than any other commentary, and probably less so.

    Those of us who have lived the hell the Mormon Church inflicts on gay people have no doubt how the vile hatred of the so called Mormon Church IS to blame in large measure for the huge number of suicides of gay Mormons.

  2. By Sonicfrog, March 24, 2012 @ 5:44 am

    Those of us who have lived the hell the Mormon Church

    The Sonic-Mates parents are Mormon, very Mormon. Even though they contributed both time and money to both Props 22 and Prop 8, they have, since I entered their lives as their sons partner sixteen years ago, treated me as part of the family. Yes, they don’t believe that me and their son should have the privilege to get married… But, never the less, I have been treated with the same respect as any one else in the family.

    Being a former Catholic, I know a lot more Catholic families who have disowned their children because they were gay than Mormons (that is on a per-capita basis BTW).

    That said, I can not judge what you may have gone through, just as I will not project my experiences with the Mormon church onto this situation. The Advocate piece made a boatload of assumptions. If it’s shown to be the case that he was tortured by his inner conflict – gay vs religion – fine. But right now there is no evidence that that is the case. For all we know, it could have been a break-up with his lover that triggered his downward spiral.

    I will do my best to keep an eye on this story and see how it plays out, if there is anything to play out.

  • GayPatriot » Dishonoring a man’s death to fit a narrative — March 24, 2012 @ 6:30 am

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