As Alex Smith spoke Monday to the community of Ogden, Utah, about the bullying his boyfriend had undergone, he nor the audience had any idea that the boyfriend, Jack Reese, had taken his own life.
No details of his death have been released, but the local chapter of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays are preparing a gathering to honor the life of Reese and those like him in northern Utah. "The local chapter of PFLAG along with a broader caring group of adults have been working together tirelessly to address issues of the importance of family acceptance to the youth in this community and similar communities all over the state," Liz Owen, director of communications for PFLAG National says in a press release. "Sadly, the death of Jack Reese is a reminder that there is still much work to be done."
"A Community Stands up -Northern Utah Addresses LGBT Bullying and Suicide" is being hosted by OUTreach at the Ogden Amphitheater on May 1. The event will feature speakers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "It is time for local schools to incorporate proven techniques for eliminating bullying and homophobia, for churches to preach love and acceptance, and for parents and families to love and accept their children. Each loss of life is a loss for all of us, and it must stop now," OUTreach executive director Marian Edmonds says in the release.
At the request of Smith, Reese's boyfriend, a candlelight vigil in memory of Reese will close the event.