As friends mourn the death of Chris Wayne Beers, a gay man and former Mormon missionary and church employee who took his own life Sunday, some are noting tensions between LGBT people and the church, which opposes gay relationships.
Utah native Beers, 38, had worked in the missionary and travel departments for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, according to a Web posting by Affirmation, a group working for LGBT equality within the LDS church. At the time of his death he was employed by the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City.
Mitch Mayne, a gay man who serves as executive secretary of the church’s Bay Ward in San Francisco, commented on Beers’s death in a Facebook posting. He did not know Beers but had been in contact with a friend of his, he noted, before saying, “While struggles with his faith may not have been the direct reason he took his own life, I’m hard pressed to imagine that there isn’t an indirect cause, at least. 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. 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.”
Services for Beers are scheduled for tomorrow in Bountiful, Utah. A memorial website has been set up at ChrisBeers.blogspot.com.