Sunday, February 28, 2010

Gay Mormon Suicide Memorial

     Mercury News reports:

    Ten years ago, Henry Stuart Matis walked up to the steps of a Mormon church in Los Altos with a note reading "Do not resuscitate" pinned to his shirt, and shot himself.
    He was a 32-year-old gay man and devoted member of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and after a lifetime spent struggling to reconcile the two, explained in a suicide note that "for the first time in over 20 years, I am free from my pains.

    "As I believed that I was a Christian, I believed that I could never be gay," he wrote. "Perhaps my death ... might become the catalyst for much good ... Your actions might help to save many young people's lives."

    Early Thursday morning — the 10th anniversary of Matis' death — a group of local Mormons and others held a memorial vigil for Matis in Los Altos.

    Starting at Cuesta Park with songs and brief speeches, about 20 people then walked up Grant Road, carrying roses and candles. They ended up on the sidewalk in front of the LDS stake center on Grant Road in Los Altos, where they set up a small memorial display with an image of Matis' tombstone and stories about his and other gay Mormons who have committed suicide.According to a statement on its Web site, the Mormon church believes that acting on "same-gender attraction" is a sin and gay church members must remain celibate.

    George Cole, a San Francisco resident who is gay and serves on the executive committee of Affirmation, a support and advocacy group for gay and lesbian current and former Mormons, said he didn't know Matis personally but has "lost too many very good friends to suicide.
    "I know what it is like to seriously consider taking your life," he said. Cole said he left the Mormon church in 2002.  "I chose happiness and fulfillment at the cost of not having the church in my own life."
     So did I, Cole.  So did I.

     If you or anyone you know is considering suicide call 1-800-SUICIDE or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). 

     For LGBT children and teens, contact the Trevor Project at  1-866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386).  

     If someone you know is going to commit suicide right now, call 911.


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