Last night the following message appeared on the Facebook group Mormons Building Bridges:
Hi, this is actually Jakes Mother. He recently tried to commit suicide because he got depressed from the people who treated him badly because he is gay. He has a cervical fracture, broken arm, and a broken leg. He was given rigid braces and a cervical collar plus a cast for his arm. So now he is physically hurt and mentally depressed. So me and a few others are doing a “Letter to Jake project”. If you would like to be involved you can post on this post something nice so he knows there are other people who support him and wish him well. I will then compile them in a slideshow for him. That is all. Thanks for reading and even more thanks to those who write something!
The message came for the account of Jake Christensen, the person who apparently attempted suicide. (UPDATE: The profile has been removed. Not sure whether by Facebook or by the person behind the account.)
But there does not appear to be an actual Jake. There are many Jakes (both people named Jake and gays who are bullied and abused)…but this is not one of them.
The account was started on January 3, 2014 (a month before the message appears on Mormons Building Bridges and similar Facebook groups) and kicked off with the status:
Well my friend don convinced me to get a facebook. Its pretty cool.
No person named Don ever interacts with Jake on his public FB wall. However, we are given a supposed reason for why there is no Jake Christensen on Facebook prior to the start of this year.
Only two people ever interact with Jake on his wall, Sarah Michelle and Andrew Ransom. Both appear to be Mormon LBGT advocates. And Jake’s only Facebook friends that interact with him.
By day 2 on Facebook, Jake posts a “10 things you might not know about me” status and has a generic FB discussion about woman and the priesthood with Sarah and Andrew.
Today was not a good day. Breaking up is no fun. I think I will just go crawl into the corner of my room and do nothing.
I am giving a sincere thanks and goodbye to everyone here. You guys were nice to me and tried to help but I am DONE with people telling me who and what I should do. I don’t need missionaries to tell me my path or my bishop. I don’t need random strangers on facebook. I am done with this crap social media stuff. I am done with this ridiculous messed up church with different opinions. I am no longer listening to anyone. I am going to make my decisions of what I will and will not do. I don’t need anybody. I am off and finished with this ridiculousness. Its my life and my choices. I am going to do what I feel is right for me. Nobody can tell me how to live my life. Its over and its never coming back! Bye facebook. I do want to say thanks for what you have all tried to do but I do not need it. Thank you Sarah Michelle and Andrew Ransom. Its my life though and I am off to my own path.
We find out on February 18 that Jakes is still meeting with the missionaries:
I only thought it would be right to tell everyone on here what I have decided to do with my life. I got permission to be baptized on Saturday February first. I am going to get baptized then I am going to be happy with a partner for my whole life. I will find somebody who will be right for me. I am going to be a Gay Mormon and proud of it. Although I will not reach the highest kingdom any kingdom is fine with me. I will keep everyone on here updated about my situation. I won’t be on here much but I will try to let people know my decisions and how I am doing. I want to say thanks to Sarah Michelle for helping me. Suicide is never the answer. I should spend my life here on earth the best I can. I prayed and I felt my heavenly fathers love tell me to be an advocate to help people like me everywhere.”
Despite the charged and emotional nature of these posts, only Andrew and Sarah ever respond. The privacy settings prevent me from seeing the extent of his friend list, but it is a very small circle.
On January 26, Jake’s FB profile picture is changed to the Red equality sign.
The only event on his profile is the Jan. 28 marriage equality rally in Salt Lake.
All of the posts from the last 24 hours are expressions of support, mostly from Sarah Michelle.
The hospital in Heber, where supposed friends of Jake say that he might be, does not have a Jake staying there. However, given that he “…has a cervical fracture, broken arm, and a broken leg” and “he was given rigid braces and a cervical collar plus a cast for his arm,” he may be receiving more intensive care elsewhere.
Jake’s stated political ideology on Facebook is “Gay Rights” and “Gay rights 123!”
Jake is not a lost lonely 18-year-old (based on his June 13, 1995 birth date found on FB) in Heber, UT. I have no doubt that being an 18-year-old gay man in Heber would be pretty horrible and that there are real Jakes all over Utah.
This Jake is a hoax.
There are many LGBT youth and LGBT young adults being bullied and abused. Many are contemplating suicide. Some will attempt suicide. Some will succeed. This is a crisis.
This stunt in no way advances their cause. Instead, it has the potential for great harm. A harm which is expanded by the loose nature of social media and the internet.
The one positive from this, in my view, is that the outpouring of support for “Jake” showed the robust kindness and charity of the Mormon LGBT and LGBT-ally community.
There is much work to be done and there are many actually stories that need to be told.
Today, reach out to the gay youth you know and have in your life.
UPDATE: The original version of this post identified individuals who I suspected as being behind the hoax. I had primarily circumstantial evidence to support that claim. After a morning of constant threats, I have removed that phrase. (2/5/2014 12:15pm)