BRISBANE — A college student in Australia was found dead at a train station on Monday, just one day after video was posted online of him and others chanting “Drag queens are not for kids” at a Drag Queen Story Time Event at a public library. Reports state that the student was bullied and taunted online after the footage went public, and there is divided opinion over the development, with some finding his death suspicious and others speculating that the pressure — coupled with other troubles — might have pushed him to suicide.
“Mr. Gavin was relentlessly trolled with vile insults and taunts, and … received some messages with an encouragement that he die,” a friend of Wilson Gavin told the Cairns Post. “Some members of his family, classmates and friends were tracked down and contacted, while his school, the University of Queensland, was publicly encouraged to kick him out.”
“His social media accounts were [also] trawled through in a bid to find other indiscretions to build a fuller profile of the kind of person he was,” they explained.
According to reports, Gavin, who struggled with homosexuality yet resisted his temptations, led the University of Queensland’s Liberal National Club, which is actually conservative in nature. He and 15-20 other students went to the Brisbane Square Library on Sunday to stand against a Drag Queen Story Time for children, being recorded chanting in close proximity to a man dressed as a woman, “Drag queens are not for kids.”
Gavin, a Roman Catholic, was also among those who opposed the legalization of same-sex “marriage” in 2017, organizing a “You Can Say No” rally and appearing on television to explain his beliefs.
The college student recognized at that time that he was facing criticism for his views, but matters apparently escalated with the latest stand that he took.
The Star Observer reports that Gavin was found dead at the Chelmer Railway Station Monday morning due to “critical injuries.” The Australian reports that “police said there were no suspicious circumstances,” but that “a lot had been going on in his life. There were many layers.”
While Gavin’s aunt had described him online as a “tormented soul,” some speculate that the harassment he faced after the footage went public may have had a part in pushing him over the edge — launching much discussion about the real consequences of online bullying.
“Some Twitter commentary simply disagreed with the protest, describing the protesters … as homophobic. But others went further, saying the footage made them feel ‘stabby,’ or that the protesters had ‘hittable’ faces,” wrote Stephen Lunn and Emily Ritchie for The Australian in an article entitled “Screening Out Online Hate.”
“The alt left harassed and bullied Wilson Gavin, a gay man, for opposing ‘Drag Queen Story Time’ until he took his own life. They are directly responsible for his death,” also opined a commenter on Twitter. “If this isn’t a wake up call, I don’t know what is.”
Member of parliament George Christensen similarly posted that he was leaving Twitter over the matter.
“Suicide happens when Twitter keyboard warriors pile on an individual for a political protest,” he wrote, as first noted by the Daily Wire. “Twitter is broken. It’s for ad hominem attacks & pile-ons, not real discourse. And it’s aided & abetted by the media. I can’t delete the media, but I am deleting my Twitter account. Bye.”
Russell Blackford, a philosopher and lecturer at the University of Newcastle told the Cairns Post that he sees such behavior on social media as a modern form of public shaming.
“These types of mobs are just devastating for people, and I don’t think those who participate in them fully understand just how destructive they can be,” he stated. “With social media, the whole world opens up and you can find yourself piled on by huge numbers of people, often with threats … It’s a significant storm.”
“I’m actually surprised more people haven’t [died by] suicide over these kinds of things,” Blackford said. “People have lost their jobs, there have been devastating effects on families, and on and on it goes.”
Even following the news of Gavin’s death, some refused to relent or express sorrow but instead found humor or satisfaction in his demise.
“I think we’re supposed to be sad about this, but I’m afraid it is boundlessly funny to me to storm Drag Queen Story Time and get owned so hard you kill yourself,” one woman wrote.
“Absolutely no sympathy,” another commenter remarked, as captured in screenshots by a Federalist writer. “He ended a life of chosen self-hate and misery. This just spares others the projection of that. Cleaner air for the rest of us.”
One meme even read: “I’ve always heard you should speak good of the dead. He’s dead. Good.”
Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can know it?”
1 John 3:10 also teaches, “In this the children of God are manifest and the children of the devil: Whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.”