Parents of student who took his life after drag protest break their silence

Brooke Rolfe
News Reporter

The grieving family of Wilson Gavin, who took his own life after leading a protest against two drag queens, has described the late student “as a devoted and loving son and brother”.

In a statement released on Thursday, the family expressed gratitude to the people who “shared their stories of who Wilson Gavin really was”, and condemned those who described him as “a deeply troubled young man”.

“To anyone who is or was angry with Wilson – we know he regularly got the ‘how’ wrong and occasionally got the ‘what’ wrong. This made us angry with him too,” the statement, published on The Brisbane Times, read.

They expressed love and support for the LGBTIQA+ communities and Rainbow Families Queensland, who the 20-year-old was protesting against at the Brisbane Square Library on Sunday.

Mr Gavin was the president of Queensland University’s Liberal National Club. Source: Sky News

“To young, politically motivated people of all persuasions – we implore you to seek kind and wise mentors who will guide you, and not use you or wash their hands of you when you no longer serve their purposes.

“To those who are now regretting words said or typed in anger that may have contributed to another person’s suffering – we know and share your pain all too well.”

They revealed their sorrow for people impacted by Mr Gavin’s decision to end his life, and said the police and emergency workers they dealt with had earned their “deepest respect and gratitude”.

“We loved Wil for his compassion and sense of justice – just some of the many things he got right. We respected the unwavering strength of his convictions and desire to make the world better.”

Mr Gavin was admired for his drive to contribute to society by serving at a weekly soup kitchen and teaching children in Mongolia, his family said.

He would often “give the last note in his wallet to a homeless person on the street”.

Wilson Gavin was filmed protesting at the drag queen event on Sunday. Source: Twitter

Mr Gavin, the former president of Queensland University’s Liberal National Club, was found dead on Monday morning - one day after he was filmed leading the group of protesters at a children’s drag story time event.

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.

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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