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

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

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. The world has seen the faces of these parents saturated in the media, it has been disgusted in their crime.

The dead boy’s name is Gabriel and he is as angelic as he sounds. He was killed because his mother and the father figure in his life were repulsed by the femininity that he projected. They feared he might be gay.

This fear of gay people was thematic in Humanum: The Complementarity of Man and Woman, An International Colloquium that you sponsored. The murderous couple fully met the criteria of the ideal that you praised at the colloquium. They were a couple that the colloquium said would “attest to the power and vitality of the complementary union of man and woman”. They would have found inspiration as speaker after speaker depicted gay people as threats against humanity. They, not loving same sex couples that would do anything to protect and nurture their children, are the ones you want to inspire to marry.

Gabriel died at the hand of your model.  In the report by the Antelope Valley Press, Paramedic James Cermak was quoted, “It was like sensory overload. There was burn marks, there was BB holes, bruises in various stages of healing, [it] looked like his ankles were broken. It was like every inch of this boy had been abused. We noticed that he had bruising all over his body, he had strangulation marks around his neck, and looked like his teeth had been knocked out.”  Cermak asked Pearl Fernandez about the situation and “she became very defensive,” he said, and she called her dying son “a dirty boy.”  His sin was playing with dolls and liking girlish things.

I mourned with Zachary, another little boy who died for the same reasons as Gabriel, over the “ beauty, magnificence, talent and life” that he represented that is now gone.  I told him I would miss “the adult you were to become: the father, the artist, or the hero. “ I mourned the children he did not get to raise and the better world he did not get to help build.

You need to explain to the world about the life that Gabriel did not live.

Did you intend for this to happen? No, I hope not. Your intellectual theories developed from the homophobic philosophers your gathered created the perfect storm that killed these boys however. You have inspired hatred and rejection of gay people integrated into a fantasy image of an ideal woman and man, who in fact do not exist. Parents of all types are only human, and the ability to physically procreate is completely unrelated to the ability to parent. None of your speakers, not a single one, acknowledged that basic fact.

A beautiful boy has died. Please say goodbye to him and express your regrets for all that he could have been. Please tell him how your model failed him, and that he deserved so much better. Look into his beautiful brown eyes and tell him what you are going to do to make sure no other soft, sweet loving boys will meet a similar fate from those conditioned to hate, and that no other evil parents will feel justified by your church for their homophobic impulses.

Gabriel will forgive you. He loved his parents even while they systematically tortured him. Children love their parents, even when they are horrible. They come ready to love. The important principle is not that children have a right to a physical “mom and a dad,” it is that they have the right to be loved back in some way to the level of the love they are so willing to give themselves. This is the information your Humanum speakers failed to grasp.

You figuratively looked into the eyes of Tony Perkins, the officers of NOM, and the discredited Mark Regnerus and welcomed them. Now please look into the eyes of Gabriel. Please explain to him how these failed theories are supposed to work.

If you can’t figure it out, there are plenty in the world who can.  There are gay parents like myself who do not worry about how we do or do not symbolize the creation of the universe, but who love our kids above all else. That love is what nurtures and saves our children, not a two gender household with some antiquated role model structure.

You can also ask parents who love their gay children and look at their value in the world – parents like Sarah, who shared on the blog , ““I know my son was born gay, I watched him grow up. He showed signs at the tender age of 3. God did not make a mistake when he made him. I pray that God will take away all the shame (from parents and children) who are gay, I pray that one day this will not be such a polarizing topic in churches.”

The shame she speaks of is gone from little Gabriel Fernadez. He is now at peace from the torture of which he was subjected.

The only shame is on the heads of those who killed him. It is on the shoulders of those who demonize families who love over those who match a specific physical picture. It hangs in the voices of those supporting a homophobic agenda, those who nodded in compliance at Humanum, and drank up all the lies. It is on your doorstep, it is in your house.

It is yours.

I wrote a requiem for a boy named Zachary because I wanted the world to remember his face, not the faces of the parents who killed him. I wanted the world to look into his eyes and appreciate the loss that homophobia delivered. I wrote it for Zachary.

I want you to write one for Gabriel this time. I want you to remember his face and not the theoretical faces of those that you think are designed to make perfect parents. I want you to appreciate that love is more important than all of that, and your Humanum project did not produce love, it produced homophobia. Homophobia killed Gabriel.

This time, I want you to write the requiem about Gabriel, but I do not want you to write it for him.

I want you to write it for you.

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