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Friends remember ‘hero’ student found dead after protest against ‘drag queen’ event for kids

Wilson Gavin was a devout Catholic who wrote poignantly about Church teaching, defended marriage in the public square, and volunteered with the Missionaries of Charity.
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21-year-old Wilson Gavin abruptly died less than 24 hours after leading a protest against a Drag Queen Story Hour event for kids.
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Wilson Gavin blares the Taiwanese anthem at a pro-Communist China Confucius Institute event
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Wilson Gavin (back, fourth from left) and friends at a pro-life march
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Wilson Gavin and former Australian PM Tony Abbott
Paul Smeaton By Paul Smeaton

Paul Smeaton By Paul Smeaton

BRISBANE, Australia, January 15, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Friends and family of Wilson Gavin are continuing to grieve the loss of the 21-year-old student who was found dead less than 24 hours after leading a protest against a drag queen storytime event at Brisbane Square Library on Sunday afternoon.

The police are not treating Wilson’s death as suspicious. As far as LifeSiteNews can ascertain, at the time of writing the only details regarding Wilson’s death that are currently available from public authorities or in the mainstream media are the following, as reported by Daily Mail Australia:

Queensland police and ambulance services were called to an incident at Chelmer about 7.07am.

A state ambulance spokeswoman said the patient was found with critical injuries. Mr Gavin was 21. 

Caroline Overington of The Australian has claimed that Wilson “threw himself in front of a train.” She does not cite where she has established this. LifeSite contacted Caroline Overington to ask where she obtained this information, but did not hear back by press time.

On Monday evening, Mass was offered for the repose of Wilson’s soul at Mary Immaculate church, Annerly. Wilson attended Mass there regularly. 

A post on the parish’s Facebook page read:

Many people have been deeply shocked and saddened by the tragic and unexpected death of Wilson Gavin. We firstly offer our sincere condolences and prayerful support to Wilson's family and to all those who knew and loved him.

It is so important to remember that whenever we are deeply distressed and hurting, we reach out beyond ourselves in prayer to Jesus Christ and His holy mother Mary. At the same time it is vital that we also do everything possible to reach out to a family member or friend and/or seek professional help. For example Lifeline can always be contacted on 13 11 14.

The 7pm Mass at Mary Immaculate church, Annerley this evening will be offered for the eternal repose of Wilson's soul. Afterwards, there will be an opportunity for those who wish to gather outside the church for tea/coffee etc

All Welcome.

A friend of Wilson’s told LifeSiteNews that hundreds of young people attended the Traditional Latin Mass and “cried as one.”

LifeSiteNews has received messages from numerous friends and contacts of Wilson, highlighting his courageous leadership in a host of areas.

A devout Catholic involved in pro-life, pro-family activism

From the numerous reports we have received from Wilson’s friends, it is clear that they regarded him as a young man of deep faith. 

Wilson attended Latin Mass at the Mary Immaculate church regularly. His close friends describe him as “devout.” He volunteered with the Missionaries of Charity in Brisbane every Saturday, feeding the homeless and attending Mass. Wilson organized a Christmas party for his fellow university peers with the Missionaries of Charity and the sisters attended the Mass for him on Monday evening.

A close friend of Wilson’s told LifeSite that Wilson recently spent time in Mongolia teaching Mongolian children. He “was one of the most compassionate, giving and principled people you could ever meet. I've never met anyone like him.”

LifeSiteNews understands that Wilson was born into a Catholic family but started attending daily Mass in high school. At the time of his death, he was reportedly attending Mass several times a week.           

Wilson regularly attended pro-life events and was also Queensland Chairperson President of the Australian Catholic Students Association from 2019 until his death. 

A close friend described him as a “champion for the underdog.” Wilson’s reason for organizing the protest at the library on Sunday, which occurred less than 24 hours before his mysterious death, was because he “understood his duty to protect Brisbane’s youngest children from overt sexualisation in their most tender and impressionable years.”

Wilson himself is reported to have been same-sex attracted and chaste, making his unpopular stand against same-sex “marriage” and transgenderism all the more admirable because of the backlash he endured.

LifeSite understands that Wilson had been planning to book tickets to Melbourne this week in order to attend a pro-family meeting there.

According to one close friend of Wilson, he was a lover of the arts and the finer things in life, especially the opera. He had organized for a group at his university to attend the opera in Brisbane together. A friend of his told LifeSite that “he enjoyed it very much, although he was not satisfied with the staging of the piece!” 

The friend commented to LifeSiteNews, “it was an impressive feat to get a bunch of young University men to attend the opera and make plans to go again!”

Another close friend of Wilson told LifeSiteNews that he prayed the Rosary every night and that he would regularly volunteer to offer it up for a particular cause or issue a friend was involved with. 

Two years ago Wilson contributed an article to the U.S.-based Catholic magazine Regina, titled “A millennial confronts death.” Aged just 19, Wilson wrote poignantly about the attitude of the Catholic Church to death:

Even in Holy Mother Church, we can see that the cultural fear of death has taken root. The Four Last Things are forgotten. The part of the Creed where we acknowledge that Christ will come to judge the living and the dead is passed over without a thought. Some might say that the increasingly tacky gaudiness of funerals, with their emphasis on the deceased’s life and personality and the Resurrection, are signs that we do not fear Death enough. I disagree. This is a form of denial of death, and a flippant disregard for its consequences.

This denial represents a clear departure from traditional Catholic views on death. We are, without a doubt, one of the most delightfully morbid religions in the world. Our liturgy reminds us of its approach every day; we are told to always be in a state of grace, that we never know when it might strike. Our altars are built over the bones of the martyrs, we kiss and caress the bones of the sanctified dead, and the most omnipresent symbol of our Faith is a man being brutally tortured and murdered.

Defender of marriage

David Pellowe, an Australian conservative Christian social commentator who spoke to Wilson via Messenger the day before his death, interviewed Wilson in 2017 as part of the “Vote No” campaign in the lead up to Australia’s referendum on whether or not to redefine marriage. In an article in response to Wilson’s death, Pellowe described Wilson as a “hero,” but noted that even after his death some people on social media are continuing to attack him.

I am, was, friends with Wilson. He has nothing to apologise for and is a hero we all should take notes from. He hated no one, and dearly loved his Roman Catholic Church, taking his religion very seriously. He loved the Queen and our Commonwealth, and passionately advocated for conservative principles as the best ideas for all of his fellow Australians. Like the stranger in the parable of the Good Samaritan, he thought it his Christian imperative to practically insert himself into solutions for the welfare of others, motivated only by love of neighbour.

During the campaign to defend or undefine marriage in 2017, Wilson was one of three brave, young, gay men who came out as conservatives voting ‘no’ and were willing to be interviewed by me. One changed his mind the day before; the other participated on condition his identity be obscured.

These young men understood the personal risk and potential cost to their careers and reputation if they dared to dissent from the status quo. As if to prove the stakes, we conducted the interview the week after the three ladies from the first Coalition for Marriage video were viciously persecuted, threatened and intimidated, even facing petitions to end their careers for voting no. 

Wilson’s joy and warmth of character exploded from his easy smile and infectious laugh through the lens and screen to the viewer. He described how fantastic the legal rights of homosexuals are in Australia.

In that 2017 interview, Wilson said that LGBT lobbyists would not stop at changing the legal definition of marriage but that their goal was to “tear down the family and every traditional institution in Australia.”

They’re not going to stop at marriage. Their goal is to tear down the family and every traditional institution in Australia. They just hate everything that I love – they hate me because I’m a conservative. And they hate me more because I’m a gay, and I can say to them, ‘I’m gay. I’m not a homophobe, I love gay men! You can’t call me a homophobe just because I oppose same sex marriage, just because I’m against your agenda. You can’t shout me down the way you can most people. You can’t shout me down by saying I’m a bigot and I’m a homophobe.’

Eternity News asked Pellowe how Wilson should be remembered. He responded: “He was a man of conviction, and a man of compassion. However his detractors would like to reframe it. The truth is that he, motivated by love of neighbour[,] felt the need to intervene in the injustice he saw being promoted. And he did that without hating anybody individually. We all hate evil and bad ideas – and that should not extend to hatred of people who disagree with us.”

A friend of Wilson has told LifeSiteNews that they think it is likely that former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott implicitly referred to Wilson when he gave a talk in the U.S. – which was later printed in The Australian – saying that the 2017 same-sex “marriage” debate had created a “new breed of activist” in Australia.

Wilson had certainly experienced direct opposition from LGBT campaigners prior to his death, with his public opposition to the redefinition of marriage in Australian law gaining national and international media coverage.

 

Opposition to China

In September last year, the Australian outlet NewsWeekly published an article where Wilson explained his involvement with protests of the Confucius Institute at the University of Queensland (UQ), where he was studying. Confucius Institutes are funded by the Chinese government. 

The event was also reported by the U.K. newspaper The Guardian.

Wilson told NewsWeekly:

I am a strong believer in academic independence, and knowing that a branch of the Chinese Communist Party’s Propaganda Ministry had an office at my university was an affront to me … I felt I had a duty to stand up against the Confucius Institute and in solidarity with the oppressed peoples of China.

We are surrendering our economic independence, our political freedoms, and our national sovereignty to China, and I am glad to be a small part of such a huge worldwide movement committed to bringing down this wicked communist regime.

As Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong said: “It’s high time we really showed that we want to be free and not to be slaves; we must unite together.”

The Confucius Institute is present on almost every university campus in Australia, as well as hundreds of schools. At the University of Queensland, they have discretion over funding, hiring, and curriculum. They attempt to monitor students and academics for dissent against the Chinese Communist Party line on sensitive issues. They have deep ties with the university administration. It is imperative that the government and universities take a firm stand to combat them.”

Daily Mail Australia reported that during the protest Wilson “apparently climbed up onto the roof of a uni building and hoisted up the Taiwanese flag – a controversial sign given tensions between the island and China.”

Close friend Drew Pavlou said of Wilson’s act, “It was insane, and it was beautiful.”  

An Australian monarchist

Wilson was also a leading figure in the Queensland Young Monarchists League. A friend told LifeSiteNews that events organized by the group included a Royal Baby High Tea to celebrate the birth of Archie Mounbatten-Windsor, a live viewing of the Wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, drinks nights, and dinners. 

Wilson was also an administrator of a monarchist “meme” group on Facebook which has more than ten thousand “likes.”

Wilson’s friend Satyajeet Marar, a Washington, D.C.-based Australian writer, posted on Facebook:

Wilson Gavin was an intelligent, witty, articulate and outspoken young man with a good heart. I'm extremely saddened to hear of his passing this morning.

I knew Wilson for a few years- we met through our involvement in the Australian Monarchist League. Despite holding opinions that some people disagree with strongly, he would defend them with conviction. Brave and admirable traits while most of us in this generation spend years obsessing over what others think of us and worrying about whether expressing our opinions will cause people to dislike us.

Even when the two of us argued, as we did over the many things we disagreed on, he never once resorted to personal insult or vitriol.

And when I found myself stranded in Brisbane in 2018 after a cancelled flight, he was happy to offer me a place to stay the night.

It saddens me that we didn't have the chance to have a proper chat over the last few months.

It saddens me that instead of reaching out as I should have, our last interaction was a stupid and meaningless online argument over politics.

And it saddens me that this has happened to someone with as much potential as you had.

This appearance we shared on a news panel is how I'll remember you- as a firebrand who was fighting his own battles, but who bravely held the fort for what you believed in. And who refused to ever sink to the lows that some of those who clashed with you did.

Marar included in the post an interview of Wilson defending the continuation of the monarchy in Australia on Sky News Australia. Wilson says in the interview: “I’m a lover of all things traditional, all things beautiful, and there’s nothing more traditional in this country than the monarchy. It’s a tremendous asset.”

LifeSite has received many messages from friends grieving the loss of Wilson and trying to make sense of the events that led to his death. Many questions surrounding his death remain unanswered. 

For now, as friends around Australia mourn the loss of this young man, we hope that the following reflection from someone who knew Wilson will provide some consolation to them.

Wilson was a tireless campaigner for traditional values and led with distinction a national campaign against same sex marriage. Highly intelligent and articulate, a courageous campaigner in the culture wars, great sense of humour who was always the life of a party. Always a hive of activity, his wit, humour and sense of justice was far beyond his years. On the night of his death hundreds of young people attended a Traditional Latin Mass in his honour and cried as one. Importantly Wilson was close friends to many, a leader to many, and has endured years of attacks from the Lgbti-hate community. Wilson led, and has mentored others...his legacy will be an army of young who will ask “what would Wilson do?”

The response will be never walk away from the fight of your age and God save the Queen!


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