Suicide Prevention & Awareness
Anti-Gay LDS Activities
Stuart and DJ Remembered: Suicide Tragedies Blamed on Society and LDS Church
Prepared by: Ryan
As many of you know, at least two well known gay LDS men committed suicide recently. This tragedy is timely as the LDS church's involvement in gay politics has steadily increased.
The first tragedy struck on Friday, February 25th 2000. A 32 year old man by the name of Stuart Matis shot himself in the head on the doorsteps of an LDS chapel in Los Altos, California. Before his death, Brother Matis wrote a touching suicide note to his parents. They shared part of his suicide letter at the graveside memorial service in Orem. According to his parents, Stuart's letter mentioned nothing about proposition 22. But it is well known by those who were close to him, that his homosexuality and his devotion to the LDS faith were the source of his conflict. According to his parents, Stuart died remaining faithful to his temple covenants.
The following is a copy of a letter that Stuart wrote to the BYU Daily Universe shortly before he died:
I am gay. I am also LDS. My first same-sex attraction occurred when I was seven, and for the next 25 years, I have never been attracted to women. I realized the significance of my sexuality when I was around thirteen, and for the next two decades, I traveled down a tortuous path of internalized homophobia, immense self-hatred, depression and suicidal thoughts. Despite the calluses on my knees, frequent trips to the temple, fasts and devotion to my mission and church callings such as elders' quorum president, I continually failed to attenuate my homosexuality.
I came out last year. My bishop and my father each gave me a blessing inspired by the spirit that proclaimed that I was indeed gay and that I would remain gay. Thus, I read a recent letter to the editor with great regret. The author compared my friends and me to murderers, Satanists, prostitutes, pedophiles and partakers of bestiality. Imagine having to live with this rhetoric constantly being spewed at you.
My aunt is a psychiatrist in Ogden and has worked with over 1,000 gay Latter-day Saints. Because of her work with these church members, she has been forced by necessity to specialize in homosexuality, depression and suicide.
I implore the students at BYU to re-assess their homophobic feelings. Seek to understand first before you make comments. We have the same needs as you. We desire to love and be loved. We desire to live our lives with happiness. We are not a threat to you or your families. We are your sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, neighbors, co-workers and friends, and most importantly, we are all children of God.
Santa Clara, CA
The following are excerpts from people who knew Stuart personally:
Earlier today I had asked if anyone knew the real details about the reported suicide of a gay LDS man in Northern California. Darren forwarded some letters that appeared in the BYU paper and I instantly recognized the one from Stuart Matis of Santa Clara. We have been communicating via e-mail for several weeks and he called me before my interview with the stake president and talked to me for over an hour. I have used quotes from a letter that he sent me many times when I have spoken regarding Prop 22.
I called his home and spoke with his mother. Stuart took his life Friday morning. His suicide note spoke clearly of his struggle, particularly the last few months while watching the battle regarding prop 22. He hoped that his death would become a catalyst for fruitful education of the members and leaders of the LDS church regarding the homosexuality and the homophobia that exists in the church and society. Contrary to rumors, Stuart's parents were extremely supportive of him. He told me of all the things that his parents had done to show their love for him. He had a very understanding and loving bishop. He shared this with me too. He had a deep desire to contribute in some way to changing the way the church deals with the gay community. His death was his final statement on the need for change.
His parents seem to be quite at peace. They take comfort in knowing his pain and struggle are over. They are dedicating the rest of their lives to educating members of the church about homosexuality.
A while back Stuart sent me a letter that he had written to his cousin at BYU explaining how he felt about his experience growing up gay in the Mormon church and about prop 22 in particular. With his permission, we put it on the website. My sweetheart, who takes care of the site, felt that the letter was so powerful that he put a link to it at the top of the page. I invite each of you to read this letter. The address is www.freeourfamilies.org/prop22
My sweetheart and I will be driving to Northern California tomorrow morning to attend the memorial service. Stuart had asked that the family not hold a funeral. However, due to numerous requests to honor Stuart's life by educating others, the family has decided to hold the memorial service to talk about homosexuality, tolerance, acceptance, and love.
My heart just aches for the loss of such a special person. I feel privileged to have known him in even a limited way. He has greatly touched my life.
Millie and all,
Yes, Stuart was indeed a casualty of Prop 22. When I talked to him on the phone last Tuesday he told me that he had been unable to sit through church for many months after he came out about his homosexuality. After a few minutes he would just be in tears and have to leave. He stayed away for several months to try to get things back in control. A week or two after he started attending church again was when the church announced its support for Prop 22. He told me he spent the next three days locked in his room weeping. He was completely dismayed. He told me how he ached every time he saw a "Protect Marriage" sign. When I talked to his mother tonight, she said that he had been having an extremely hard time since the prop 22 battle had been public.
His letter on our website explains a lot about how he felt.
The following excerpt is from a relative of Stuart's that is attending BYU (Name Changed)
Wasatchaff talked about Stuart Matis, the impact he had on everyone's life and also how he wrote a letter to his cousin at BYU. I would like to add my two cents worth. I am that cousin. Please do not go out and look me up and call me or whatever. I don't think that anyone will, but even then, it's obviously that I would not want to be 'outed' while here at BYU.
It was interesting to read the letter concerning Stuart. Everything said was totally and completely true. I wish that I could even begin to explain how Stuart changed my life. I came out to my parents a month ago today. A year ago though, that wasn't even an option. Why did I tell my parents? Because of Stuart. Because he walked me through it, he helped me before, during, and after. My parents took it incredibly well, because they knew Stuart and who he was, and realized what an incredible person he was. And they reacted the same way for me.
I wish that I could even begin to also tell you about the loss I feel. There are so many more things that I wanted to say to him, although I can't. I'm dealing with it in my own way. I should mention though that although I was surprised when I read the e-mail from "Wasatchaff" and you mentioned that you knew Stuart, it shouldn't shock me too much. Stuart had so many friends, that his parents said that people were calling from all across the nation, saying what an outstanding person he was, and how sorry they were to hear of his death. You also mentioned the letter that Stuart wrote to me, which eventually ended up on that website. (if you put two and two together, you'll probably realize that 'Matt' isn't my real name.) I can't begin to thank you enough for mentioning that. You see, Stuart wrote that letter to me, but never had a chance to send it to me, long story. I'm sure he would have, but now that he's gone, he can't have a chance. And when I read it... it's almost as if he's speaking to me from beyond. As if it was his last words of help and encouragement and advice to me. I didn't realize that thousands of people were reading about me. It's almost...unnerving. But it seems right, nevertheless.
I honestly feel that Stuart is in a better place right now. I know that he is much happier. I haven't read the suicide letter yet, but I also don't doubt that he acted almost as a martyr for what he believed in. I will be going to the service in Utah, and I'd love to tell everyone about it, but they probably don't need a bunch of people just showing up. If you really did know Stuart, you can e-mail me, and I'll try to give you the information that I have.
Despite the fact that I lost someone who was the big brother I never had, I strangely feel at peace. Again, perhaps it's because I know that he's happier now, he no longer feels the pain and suffering he once did. But I also feel, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart, that Stuart is watching over me. He knows what I'm going through, and often when I speak on this subject, I don't believe the words that are coming from my mouth, almost as if I'm channeling him or something.
Again, thank you for the letter, and all those who do similar things to help others. Maybe no one will know what you do. Maybe no one knows what I do. But I can promise this. Stuart knows. And if you read a letter that he wrote to the Daily Universe, the BYU newspaper, he ended the letter in the following words: "we are all children of God."
DJ Thompson (1967-2000)
The second tragedy struck the chords of our hearts on Thursday, March 9, 2000. A 33 year old man by the name of David James (DJ) Thompson also shot himself in the head in his apartment near Kingman, Arizona. DJ was a friend of mine who I met about 2 years ago and started correspondence with. I always saw him at Reconciliation and at Affirmation social events. I didn't get the opportunity to know this unique individual really well, but I always enjoyed his company. I feel a great loss because I didn't capitalize on the opportunity to know him better. Just before his suicide, DJ wrote a letter for the world to see, a copy of which is on this site: DJ Thompson letter.
Following is a e-mail I received from a close friend who knew DJ well:
I've known DJ since late 1995, when he was dating one of my roommates. We had a lot of common interests, and so quickly became friends. He's been a troubled man the whole time I've known him, but often only those closest to him could tell--he put up a facade of being carefree and happy most of the time, even when he was in great pain inside.
I spent President's Day weekend with DJ, staying at the home of some friends in Las Vegas (only a couple of hours from where he lived). We saw a lot of sights (no gambling--we didn't have the time or the money for that!) and spent time with other friends there. I'm now very grateful that I got to spend that time with him. Those are memories that I'll cherish forever.
One of the things I wish most that I could change is DJ's family situation. I wish his parents had been able to deal with his homosexuality differently. If only they had been willing to listen to the wonderful people in Family Fellowship.... I spoke with his father this morning, leaving my name and number so they can tell me when the service will be, and his father told me that "Brian" (DJ's given name) had been "seduced by Lucifer." I wish some reconciliation had taken place in this life, and I pray that one will occur in the next.
I love DJ very much, and I look forward to getting to know him again in the next life, with all the burdens he carried in mortality finally gone. I'll miss his company (even though I didn't get to see much of him in the last couple of years), and I'll do what I can to see that others in his situation find another way out. Too many of our brothers and sisters (gay or not) can't see or accept the love that others have for them. We must do all we can to make people see that they are loved, by our Father and by us.
In grief and love,
The following is a message from the current Executive Director of Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons.
This evening Rick Bickmore notified me of the suicide death of DJ Thompson. His reasons were similar to those of suicide death of Stuart [Matis] last month. He was not able to live in a world so hateful of homosexuals.
I first met DJ at Cornerstone I in San Francisco in 1998. He was the Director of the Phoenix Arizona Chapter. I remember his Southern accent, his warmth and charm, his sense of humor. The last time I saw DJ was at an Affirmation Thanksgiving Dinner, 1988, held at my parents home in San Mateo, CA.
For those of you who knew him well, would you please consider writing an article on him for inclusion in our next available issue of AFFINITY.
For those of you who want more information regarding DJ's passing, please contact
This story will hit home for many of you who have gay and/or LDS connections. I sent this out in honor of these two individuals who felt that life was just too difficult to bear. The uncharacteristic part of these two suicides is that these individuals "came out of the closet" and decided to deal with their homosexuality openly. Coming out is usually a step in the right direction towards a goal of emotional and spiritual health. For some, coming out is easier than for others. If it were not for my family, a select group of true Latter-Day Saints, and for Affirmation, my funeral would have been a couple of years ago. I am thankful to my Heavenly Father that He had guided my down a path of self acceptance and has given me the strength to face the challenges that life brings us. My heart aches when I hear of another child of God taking his or her life. It scares me to think about how many others are out there who are deciding that death is a favorable alternative to coming out and dealing with their homosexuality. I hold our society and the LDS church responsible for the deaths of Stuart and DJ. I hold myself responsible to do whatever I can to prevent others from making this awful (yet seemingly appealing) choice. I hold all of you responsible to educate yourself and others about the reality of homosexuality and consequences of ignorance and hateful teachings. This is why I sent this email out. Do not let Stuart's and DJ's death be in vain. This is my plea.