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Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons

Jack Reese (right) with boyfriend Alex Smith

Jack Reese, Gay Utah Teen, Commits Suicide After Allegedly Being Subjected To Bullying In School

Community Responds to Latest Gay Teen Suicide

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Gay Utah Teen Takes His Life
May 1 Event to Address Bullying, Suicide

by Hugo Salinas
April 2012

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?”

“I exhort you to find your voice and to become anxiously engaged in the good cause of testifying that being gay and that gay relationships are consistent with and supported by the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Randall added, “that a person’s unique expression of their identity is a beautiful testament to God’s diverse creations. I ask you to kindly yet boldly ‘warn your neighbors’ of the dangers of bullying and believing and teaching others that because they are gay they are not affirmed as a child of God and a valued member of society.”

May 1 Event in Ogden

OUTreach is hosting a community panel and discussion, “A Community Stands Up – Northern Utah Addresses LGBT Bullying and Suicide” on May 1, 6:30 p.m., at the Ogden Amphitheater, 343 E. 25th St., Ogden. The purpose of the event is for the community to stand in solidarity with queer youth, to speak out and express grief and outrage at yet another loss of life in northern Utah, and to witness for the need for immediate change in schools, churches and society.

As of April 29, some 300 people have already announced that they will attend the event.

“I am going to make tons of copies [of the flyer announcing the May1 event] and hand them out to people at my school,” wrote Jordan Christine on Alex’s Facebook wall. “Some may not agree with the circumstances, but this needs to be expanded beyond Facebook. It's worth a try, all I can do is hand them out and pray that we get their support. We WILL make an impact, and take the chance that maybe, just maybe, we can save another life.”

Community leaders, educators, parents and youth will speak out for acceptance and love for LGBT youth, including active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A candlelight vigil will be held at the conclusion of the event.