A young man has died in an apparent suicide the day after footage of him leading a protest against drag queens, alongside members of a right-wing student group, went viral.
Wilson Gavin, who was president of the University of Queensland’s conservative Liberal National Club, was heavily criticised for his part in the protest after the footage was circulated online on Sunday.
Gavin died early on Monday morning in Brisbane, Australia. He was 21.
In the video posted to Twitter, Gavin and about a dozen other young people can be seen yelling “drag queens are not for kids” at a storytelling event at Brisbane Square Library on Sunday morning.
The video racked up hundreds of thousands of views and the protest was widely covered in the media. Prominent Australians condemned the protest and people tweeted in support of the drag performers using the #IStandWithQueens hashtag.
The club’s Facebook page described the demonstration as a “stand to defend LNP values against a corrosive gender ideology”.
But senior Liberal National party members and the University of Queensland Union (UQU), which the club belongs to, denounced the protest. The university club had been disaffiliated by the party in December.
Federal MP Trevor Evans described the protesters as “ratbags” and said their conduct was “appalling”.
UQU president, Ethan Van Roo Douglas, said in a statement on Sunday that the organisation was “appalled” by reports of the protesters’ conduct. “We strongly condemn aggressive behaviour that intimidates and causes distress to children and their families,” the statement said. He added that the union was planning to consider a “further response” at the earliest opportunity.
Friend Solomon Sankari, who knew Gavin through the Australian Monarchist League, told BuzzFeed News he was a “very smart young man”.
“Well-liked by all he met. Intelligent, funny and caring. A genuinely nice soul. It’s a shame he’s gone. Massive monarchist. He had a great passion and love for the Royal Family,” Sankari said.
Drew Pavlou, a UQ senator who was friends with Gavin and tutored his family members, described the 21-year-old as “a firebrand”.
“Very controversial politics. Like a swashbuckler,” he told BuzzFeed News.
Gavin, who was gay, campaigned against same-sex marriage during the 2017 postal survey.
The University of Queensland Union, of which Wilson was a councillor, declined to comment on Monday.
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