Wilson Gavin, a student at the University of Queensland, was found dead a day after featuring in a viral video as he led a protest against a drag queen story-time event in a library in Brisbane, Australia.
Gavin was the President of the university’s conservative group, the Liberal National Club.
In the video that went viral over the weekend, Gavin and several other student protesters were yelling “Drag queens are not for kids” at two drag performers at the Brisbane Square library. The club was protesting the idea of exposing young kids to drag queens.
An online mob soon came after the club’s social media accounts, flooding them with angry comments opposing the protests.
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Not only was the online backlash immense, the club was also condemned by politicians – including the Brisbane Liberal National party MP Trevor Evans and the LNP councilor Victoria Howard.
Gavin’s death was confirmed at after 7am on Monday, around twelve hours after the online backlash, Queensland police have said.
One of Gavin’s friends Drew Pavlou, a University of Queensland senator, announced the news on Twitter:
He had his struggles and made mistakes, and it is a tragedy for us all that he ultimately succumbed to his suffering and pain. Today is a reminder of all we must do to affirm to young marginalized Australians the intrinsic worth and value of their lives
— Drew Pavlou (@DrewPavlou) January 13, 2020
“I was friends with Wilson. Away from the social media storms and headlines, he was at his core a very decent and kind person that cared for others. I had the great privilege of seeing that side of him in life. He was hilarious, a complete riot to be around
He had his struggles and made mistakes, and it is a tragedy for us all that he ultimately succumbed to his suffering and pain. Today is a reminder of all we must do to affirm to young marginalized Australians the intrinsic worth and value of their lives.”
The federal Liberal National Party politician George Christensen made the link between Gavin’s suicide and the strong backlash he received on social media.
“Twitter is broken,” Christensen said. “It’s for ad hominem attacks & pile-ons, not real discourse. And it’s aided and abetted by the media.”
Christensen has since closed his Twitter account.