Suicides of 1965
[The following is taken from McQueen, Robert I., "Outside the Temple Gates--The Gay Mormon,"
The Advocate, 13 August 1975, p. 14.]
It was a year of suicides, a rather harsh introduction to the gay society I discovered in
1965, hidden beneath Salt Lake City's placid sheen of righteousness.
The details were gory and unsettling—a strong, athletic neck snapped by a homemade noose,
a beautiful head blown apart, a body smashed like delicate porcelain in the concrete
conclusion of a seven-story leap, and two quiet overdoses on begged and borrowed drugs.
Homosexuality was, of course, the immediate scapegoat. After all, the waspish voices
inside cried, suicide and homosexuality go hand in hand.
But there was something disturbing about these particular deaths, something unnecessary,
something these men shared which was as much and possibly more to blame. Risking blasphemy,
I concluded, after a long and bitter struggle with my own beliefs, that it was their
inability to reconcile in a livable harmony the opposing forces of a rigidly homophobic
religion and homosexuality that destroyed them.
Those five young men I met in 1965 were all in their early 20's. They were Mormons. Three
of them had recently returned from missionary service for the Mormon church. They were all
students at Brigham Young University (BYU), the Mormon-owned university well known for its
arch-conservative standards of conduct and dress.
Months prior to their suicides, four of them had been trapped in the on-going homosexual
witch hunts at BYU and subjected to the church's disciplinary program. The fifth had sought
help his own way by contacting church authorities and admitting his problem to them. As an
initial step in their "counseling," each of them was interviewed by the counselor to
homosexual problems at that time, Spencer W. Kimball, now president and prophet of the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. ...
My friends from 1965 were good people. They wanted to be better people, but they believed
in their church more than they believed in themselves. When their church rejected them
because they were gay, it destroyed them. I doubt the Mormon church will ever accept even
a portion of the blame.