Ramon Navarro was once the leading Latin actor in movies after the death of Rudolph Valentino, starring in several major silent films and early talkies, in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. He was killed on October 30th by two sex-workers he had hired from an agency, in attempt to extort from him some of his perceived, but non-existent wealth. I see this tragic death as a sad symbol of the dangers of life in the closet, which had been forced on him by the twin pressures of his conflicts over sexuality and this Catholicism, and the constraints of the Hollywood publicists.
Those of us who are able to live out and proud in spite of the Vatican’s disordered sexual teaching, are able to form sound, healthy and adult relationships. Those who live in the closet are forced to live alone in solitude, or in sham marriages – such as the system of lavender marriages imposed by Hollywood on its sex-symbol gay and lesbian stars.
Some Catholics living alone will attempt to live a strictly celibate life in accordance with Catholic teaching – some may even succeed. Many others straddle an uneasy divide, between attempted celibacy, and sexual encounters in the closet. Especially for older men, sometimes the only feasible outlets are the seedier ones, in public toilets, or with commercial trade. Both can be dangerous.
Ramon Navarro resisted the Hollywood pressure to enter a Hollywood marriage, and for a time was able to sustain a meaningful, but closeted relationship with his publicist, Herbert Howe, until the latter’s death in 1959.
Some years later, in October 1969, he hired two brothers, Paul and Tom Ferguson (aged 22 and 17, respectively), to come to his home for sex. Mistakenly believing that there was a large sum of money in the house, the two then assaulted and tortured Navarro for some hours, hoping to force him to reveal the whereabouts of the cash. They eventually left with just $20. Navarro died of asphyxiation, having choked on his own blood.
It is probable that what most offends opponents of the “gay lifestyle” is its association in their minds with the kind of anonymous, impersonal sexual activities that take place in public toilets, backroom bars and in commercial transactions. What they fail to observe, is that these are less typical of gay men in open and publicly affirmed partnerships, than of those who remain closeted.
The best way to reduce the seedier, and more dangerous, elements in gay lives, is to support marriage equality.
Mormon, who paid the price for honesty when he acknowledged his orientation. He served an LDS mission, studied at BYU, married and had children in accordance with Mormon teaching. But after coming out to his wife, she left him, taking the children with her, and outed him to the church authorities, resulting in excommunication. He then committed suicide at his home on September 10, 2011.
Carlyle Davenport Marsden was born on December 9, 1921, in Parowan, Utah. He was the son of William and Della Jane Marsden. He was survived by his widow, three sons and two daughters, 10 grandchildren, two brothers and four sisters.
He had been a music teacher at Eisenhower Junior High School in the Granite School District in Salt Lake, and also taught at Brigham Young University.
He was a veteran of World War II, serving in the Army in the Pacific Theater.
He attended the College of Southern Utah in Cedar City for two years, and received his bachelor degree from Brigham Young University and his masters degree from the University of Utah. He also did graduate work at Claremont College, Occidental and Cal State in Los Angeles, California.
He had filled an LDS Mission in the New England States and had been a member of the bishopric and high council in Pomona, Calif. He had been music regional representative, stake and ward organist, and stake choir director. He had also been Sunday School superintendent in Salt Lake City.
Carlyle was outed in March 1976. This led him to take his own life on March 8, 1976. He was 54 years old.
Carlyle is buried at the Kaysville City Cemetery in Utah.
Carlyle’s grandson Douglas Stewart was a gay Mormon and sadly committed suicide on March 8, 2006, exactly 30 years to the day his grandfather committed suicide.
Bryan Jordan Smith was born March 27, 1983 in Salt Lake City, Utah. He graduated from American Fork High School and LDS Seminary. He was an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served an LDS mission in Omaha, Nebraska.
Bryan was a loving son and brother who enjoyed the outdoors, scrap booking, animals, and gardening. He loved cars and especially, his white Ford convertible Mustang. Bryan worked for Alpine School District at the Pony Express Elementary School. He planned on attending Joseph Patrick Academy of Hair this fall.
Bryan committed suicide on Wednesday, August 18, 2004 in American Fork. He left a suicide note stating that he could not handle the fact that he was gay and that was at least one of the reasons for his suicide.
Christopher was born in San Diego on January 22, 1982, and attended Highland High School in Salt Lake City. Life was not easy for Chris; he felt overwhelmed with emotional problems and suffered depression. He committed suicide in Salt Lake City on June 16, 2003. Christopher was cremated at his request, and his ashes were later scattered on the Pacific.
A vigil for Chris was held on July 1, 2003, in Sugarhouse Park in Salt Lake. The service was conducted by Chris’s step mom, Sheri Young; Chris’s dad, David, also said a few words.
Through a candlelight ceremony, the audience remembered not only Chris but all gay and lesbian people who have taken lives. Charles Milne, GLBT advisor for the University of Utah, helped conduct the candle lighting ceremony and made some remarks. Kristine Clifford said a prayer.
These are some experts for the remarks made by Chris’s dad:
“I went to several churches for answers. The answers that they gave me were that gay people are evil and bad. One pastor in a local church told me that gay people are possessed with demons—that they are bad and that they are going to hell.”
“Chris wanted to be accepted for who he was, but he could never accept himself who he was and how he felt.”
“We don’t need special groups for gays or anyone else. We cannot judge gay people and put them in special groups. What makes us better than gay people? We need to save our children.”
Jack Denton Reese, a gay teen of LDS background committed suicide on April 22 in Mountain Green, Utah. He was 17 years old.
According to Jack’s boyfriend, Alex Smith, Jack was bullied at school. On April 23, Alex, who didn’t know yet that his boyfriend had taken his life, spoke at a panel about the bullying Jack experienced. The panel was held in connection with the screening of the documentary film, “Bullied.”
Jack attended Morgan and Weber High schools. On April 27, Weber High students attended class in their Sunday best in Jack’s honor. “You’ll always be remembered,” wrote a close friend on the mortuary’s guestbook. “I know you’re looking down on us all right now, telling us all to be ourselves no matter what people say or how harshly they judge. I know it because that’s all you wanted. I love you, Jack. Love forever in our hearts. You’re amazing just the way you are.”
“I remember Jack when he was in our ward and when he would pass the sacrament,” reads another entry. “What a handsome and dedicated young man!”
“How is it possible that on the same day on one side of the country we are being affirmed as gay and Mormon [at the Circling the Wagons Conference] while on the other side another gay Mormon is taking his life?” wrote Randall Thacker, senior vice president with Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons. “How will this suffering ever come to an end?”
According to stories posted on several Mormon blogs, Chris Wayne Beers, a returned missionary and former church employee, took his life on March 18. He was 38 years old.
Beers was a returned missionary and had worked for years at the Church Office Building in the missionary and travel department, and at the time of his passing he was working at the University of Utah Hospital.
A native from Bountiful, Utah, Beers graduated from Woods Cross High, where he played football and other sports. After serving an honorable mission for the LDS Church, he touched the lives of countless youth as an EFY counselor.
“If we, as Mormons, did what we were supposed to do for all of our brothers and sisters–love them unconditionally–Chris would never have been stripped of his family of faith,” wrote Mitch Mayne on a Facebook entry. “He would not have been forced to choose. He would have had a deeper, richer and more spiritual support network to walk him through what life brought his way. Sadly, like many, he was given the ‘Sophie’s Choice:’ live life according to a heterocentric cultural practice and do so alone, without a partner–or live life without your family of faith and the strength of that spiritual community.”
Jay Lynn Peterson was born on January 23, 1966, in West Valley City, Utah. He was baptized in the LDS Church on May 3, 1975. After high school, Jay served in the US Navy.
On January 31, 1998, Jay was involved in a violent altercation at the Exchange Place, downtown Salt Lake City, with a man who made a derogatory statement about Jay’s sexual orientation. After the altercation, Jay drove to his apartment in the Avenues and committed suicide. He was 32 years old.
Jay is buried at the Utah Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Riverton, Utah.
My Gay LDS cousin Michael J. Green committed suicide on January 10, 1986. He parked his truck outside of a tavern in Clearfield, Utah, where he lived (I don’t think it was a Gay tavern), and shot himself to death in his truck.
Michael was born June 26, 1961 in Ogden, Utah to Ralph Jay Green and Mary Penman. By birth, he was my third cousin through the Beazer line, but then my grandmother Beazer married his grandfather (Ralph Beazer Green) about 1974, after the deaths of their spouses, and so by marriage Michael and I became first cousins. I remember sitting in our grandparents’ new motor home in the summer of 1975, talking about our homosexuality, both of us very confused and terrified. As badly off as I was, I remember he was even worse — he always had huge dark circles under his eyes because he couldn’t sleep at night, so tormented was he about his sexuality, and later we got into a huge fight about it.
After both our grandparents died (his grandfather in March 1976 and my grandmother in June 1976), we never spoke again. He was buried in the Syracuse City Cemetery in Utah on January 15, 1986. I sincerely hope at last he found the peace he never could find here on earth.
The son of Gilbert Fay and Lucy Pettingill Lauritzen, Brad G. Lauritzen born in Brigham City, Utah on October 26, 1947.
In 1966, Brad registered in Brigham Young University’s Study Abroad Program and spent a semester in Grenoble, France.
While a student at BYU, Brad became affiliated with a social group for gay people in 1967 and early 1968 that met regularly in the “step down lounge” at the Wilkinson Center. Brad was outed by Donald Attridge, another gay student, in the early spring of 1968. Attridge had turned in a lengthy list of names to Apostle Spencer Kimball after receiving assurances from both BYU’s head of Standards Office, Kenneth Lauritzen (no relation to Brad), and Kimball that those on the list would be “helped” by Kimball.
Instead, Brad was hospitalized in the psychiatric ward of a mental institution by his family. He later escaped and ran away to San Francisco, where he committed suicide just before Christmas, on December 18, 1971. He was 24 years old.