Views & Voices

Why I want Pope Francis to write a requiem for Gabriel Fernandez, the boy tortured to death for appearing gay

Gabriel Fernandez

Gabriel Fernandez

Gabriel Fernandez

Gabriel Fernandez

There is a story that I have felt compelled to write for three months. I have not written it because I have found it difficult to find the words. I have the words. I have the exact words. I have written them before.

The story that has nagged at me is the mourning of Gabriel Fernandez, and the requiem of his death. He was eight years old.  I know the words to say to Gabriel, because I wrote them in April to a little boy named Zachary.

Zachary Dutro-Boggess

Zachary Dutro-Boggess

Both Zachary and Gabriel were tortured and killed because their mothers, and their mothers’ boyfriends perceived them to be gay. 

Both sets of parents had other children in the house who received less than stellar treatment, but the real horrific, unspeakable treatment was for the child who was effeminate and brought homophobic shame to the family.

While Zachary’s case stayed somewhat off radar for professionals, Gabriel’s was glaringly apparent. His first grade teacher literally had child protective services on “speed dial.”

While firings have taken place within the system of those who should have come to his rescue, discussion has been light on the homophobia in society that created not only Gabriel’s situation, but Zachary’s and other children who are out there this very minute being tortured and killed because of it, away from the public eye.

That isn’t to say that families, and the “ideal” home environment is not under an enormous public discussion by those claiming that it is of paramount importance – it is.

A few weeks ago, significant conservative Christian commentators converged in Houston Texas for “I Stand Sunday” to declare their militant stance for what they see as required within the family structure. Some of these same participants are guests this week at the “Humanum”: The Complementarity of Man and Woman: An International Colloquium, at the Vatican with Pope Francis.

These events represent the worst of the worst in the intellectual rationalization of homophobia. 

The supporting inspirational videos at Humanum are by discredited anti-gay “researcher” Mark Regnerus. The opinions expressed from the podium at the colloquium include nonsensical speculations that:

  • Hints same sex marriages are a trend that will go away
  • Teens lose sight of their gender as they become aware of their sexual orientation
  • The universe was created through a heterosexual act
  • The earth is a heterosexual creation – the ocean is female and the land is male
  • There is a “counter” sexual revolution that is about to happen
  • That same sex marriages will somehow impede “human flourishing”

When I wrote a requiem for little Zachary, I promised, “With you in our hearts, little man, I promise you, we will do so much better.  We will shut this intolerance, this indecency down even harder.  We can’t give you back your life, but through your memory, we can take back our own lives and this world.

We have the power to make this world one of love, fairness and peace.  You have reminded us why we need to do that for all the future little boys and little girls just like you. We owe it to them.  We owed it to you.  We will not fail again.”

Apparently we already had.  When I wrote that, Gabriel was already dead. This time the requiem, the promise to end violent parental homophobia needs to not come from me or any other LGBT parent, it needs to come from those who are lay down the requirements of what parents should be. It needs to come from Pope Francis himself.

Your Holiness,

Another child has died. He did not die of natural causes, he died of the highest of unnatural causes—he died at the hands of the parents who were supposed to love him … (continue)

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