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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended May 14, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 02May00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Matis Remembered In Newsweek
Newsweek 8May00 N1
By Mark Miller

NEW YORK, NEW YORK -- The upcoming issue of Newsweek recounts the tragic story of LDS Church member Stuart Matis, who struggled with homosexual feelings until his suicide February 25th on the steps of his LDS stake center in California. His suicide came just two weeks before the vote on California's Proposition 22. Matis had, by all accounts, remained celibate, refusing to yield to his homosexual urges.

Newsweek's recounting of his story is both poignant and tragic. It covers his childhood struggles, recounting Matis' first realization of his orientation at age seven. A childhood friend, Jennifer Mouritsen, told Newsweek, "He would punish himself if he had a [homosexual] thought. He wouldn't allow himself to go to a friend's birthday party or [wouldn't] watch his favorite TV program."

After serving an LDS mission, according to Newsweek, Matis continued his struggle. He confided in a mission companion, Clay Whitmer, also gay, following their return. Matis also confided with his bishop, Russell Hancock, who was very supportive, going so far as to tell him, after learning Matis had considered suicide, "if this is a choice between life and the church, he should choose his life."

In the past year, the intensity of Matis' conflicted feelings increased, as the LDS Church's campaign against Proposition 22 gained national attention. He told his family, who were also supportive, but unable to help him resolve his conflicted feelings. Desperate, Matis lashed out at the Church, writing in a letter to a cousin, "Straight members have absolutely no idea what it is like to grow up gay in this church. It is a life of constant torment, self-hatred and internalized homophobia."

Finally, Matis wrote a suicide note to his family, and committed suicide. A few weeks later, his friend Clay Whitmer, suffering from similar conflicts, also committed suicide.

Newsweek concludes the tragic story by noting, "The people who dressed him for burial were struck by the sight of his knees, deeply callused from praying for an answer that never came."


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