‘He never deserved to die’: Student slams 'feeding frenzy' around drag queen protest

Brooke Rolfe
News Reporter

A friend of the student who took his life hours after leading a protest against a drag queen event for children says the “feeding frenzy” that followed was not justified and he “never deserved to die”.

Wilson Gavin, president of Queensland University’s Liberal National Club, was found dead on Monday morning - one day after he was filmed leading a group of protesters who stormed “Drag Queen Story Time” at the Brisbane Square Library.

In an interview with The Project on Wednesday, Drew Pavlou described his friend as a “bullet-proof guy”.

“As late as seven that night he was telling people, ‘It's all good, we're going to keep going, we're fine’, and then suddenly in the morning we all woke to the terrible news,” Mr Pavlou told the program.

“It was a huge shock. It was like the least thing you would ever expect. Of all people to face this, you would never expect it would be Wilson.”

Wilson Gavin was filmed confronting a drag queen at the Brisbane Square Library on Sunday. Source: Twitter

Mr Pavlou said the backlash surrounding Mr Gavin’s “one mistake” and his subsequent response should never have amounted in his death.

“He never deserved to die for this one mistake. The response was just over and above what he actually did.

“Personally, I disagreed with the protest and I thought it was like a hurtful thing and I wish it never happened. The thing is though, you are not a full person at the age of 20.”

He described the tragedy as a “huge wake-up call” that he hoped would make people rethink their strong reactions to others they don’t agree with.

“You may think your individual contribution, or your individual small attack is meaningless, but really it all adds up and when there's that level of feeding frenzy, it all adds up and no 20-year-old can handle it.”

In footage of Sunday’s incident, Mr Gavin could be seen clashing with a drag queen in a heated confrontation while the rest of the group repeatedly chanted “drag queens are not for kids”.

Drew Pavlou described his late friend as a "bullet-proof guy". Source: 10Play/The Project

Johnny Valkyrie, a LGBTQIA activist who attended the event as her drag queen persona Queeny, said later on Facebook children attending the event were left crying and their parents were distressed by the incident. 

After hearing of Mr Gavin’s death, Queeny expressed her condolences to his family and the wider community in a Facebook post.

Drag queen shares heartfelt reaction

“My heart is breaking for the family, friends and community affected by the passing of Wilson Gavin. He was deeply troubled. He needed love,” the post read.

“Wilson, I love you. Wilson, I forgive you. Wilson, I see you. Wilson, I pray for you. What you did on Sunday was unacceptable. Who you were was not.

“Please be kind to each other. I am going to take some time to reflect.”

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.

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