Monday, June 13, 2005 - Apache Junction, Arizona, USA

The Jeffrey Price Story

A distrubing article appeared in the Wilkes-Barre, PA Times Leader a short while ago. It shows what happens when young gay men are pushed into believing their sexual orientation is a sin and that they can somehow change it.

Jeffrey Price, a gay young man age twenty, had been fighting his sexuality for a long time. Deep depression, two suicide attempts, and five stays in psychiatric wards marked his struggle, a reality not uncommon among gays his age. There was also a constant, driving fear that he let his father down. Jeff's life ended in May of last year, cut short by what police described as "an accidental self-inflicted gunshot to the head."

As a fourteen-year old, Jeff explained to his parents that, "I like boys. I'm not really attracted to girls." His mother's reaction was, "If you're trying to tell us you're gay honey, that doesn't change you as a person. You're still my son and you still have a beautiful heart. You're still the same person."

But Jeff's father had a different take. He spent six years trying to comprehend Jeff's homosexuality. He never told Jeff it didn't matter. He said, "I don't hate you. I just don't understand it. I never will." His dad had been in the military when being gay meant suffering beatings while superiors turned their heads,

At age fifteen, Jeff began attending the Back Mountain Harvest Assembly Church, pastored by Rob Coscia. Jeff liked the man, opened up to him, turned to him for help in accepting himself for who he was. But the pastor believed that if a person didn't want to be gay, they didn't have to be gay and he told Jeff that with God's help, he could change. As Jeff's understanding of God strengthened, his displeasure with being homosexual grew.

Coscia told Jeff that he could help him rid his body of homosexuality and Jeff tried very hard to believe him. "I don't think God's plan was homosexuality in any way," Coscia told him after Jeff expressed a desire to deny his sexual orientation. "It's not like race, like you're born Caucasian or African-American. I let him know the he was not an aberration or a terrible person and God can do something about it."

Yet for all the spiritual guidance that came from Pastor Coscia, his inability to convert to a heterosexual was to Jeff just another form of failure. "Something's wrong with me, but I don't want to admit it," he wrote in his journal.
"I'm sorry I ever labeled myself as gay. Now it's too hard to escape. I know if I start now at this young age I can become the man I'm supposed to be. The man that feels right. The man that has a family. But I want that with another man."

Jeff swallowed a large amount of extra-strength painkillers at age 13, but threw them up later. "He had a lot of anger, but most of it came from himself, and being gay and not being able to do anything about it," his mother said. "My son thought I was a hard-ass," his father said. "You have your good days and your bad days. What father and son don't see eye to eye sometimes? Yeah, I would have loved to have seen my son get married and have kids." But Jeff felt that if his father couldn't accept who he was, how could anyone else.

When he was in seventh grade, Jeff dated Amanda Maneval. They went to dances and their photo albums were filled with pictures of them. But Jeff confided to her that he was homosexual and the two stopped dating, although they remained friends.

Jeff fell in love with Shawn Bublo, a young man he had met at an after-care program for troubled kids when he was thirteen. After splitting up with Amanda, Jeff and Shawn entered into Jeff's only attempt at a gay relationship. The pair dated for two years, until Jeff was sixteen. "After two years we weren't the same people," Shawn said. "He stopped going to church. He started getting mean and upset a lot." The two remained friends, however, and it was no secret that Jeff still loved Shawn.

At age seventeen, his parents knocked down Jeff's bedroom door and found him laying on the floor, unconscious and mumbling incoherently. He had taken a handful of pills and barricaded himself in his room. He was rushed to Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, where doctors pumped his stomach. They saved his life. His suicide note read, "Please understand why I chose to die. I have suffered way too much. I would have suffered the rest of my life, so I had no choice at all...No matter what, no one could have helped. I was still gay and no one could change it."

The last two years of his life saw changes in Jeff. In an effort to make new friends, he took up using marijuana, drinking, and hanging out with new people. It didn't help. He still felt alone in a world where he wasn't accepted for who he was.

Jeff's poetry and journal became filled with obvious references to taking his own life. They were suicide notes written in short, broken sentences and grim stanzas. "Take away the pain, the tears, the longing and the fears." A journal entry on May 16th read,
"Wouldn't it be nice to have someone miss me..."

Soon after that entry, Jeff visited his friend Shawn. He still had Shawn's picture on the TV in his bedroom. The two ran some errands. Shawn was the last person to see Jeff alive.

After Jeff's death, his tragic end left friends and family still struggling for answers. His minister said, "Hopefully God used me to show Jeff God's unconditional love. I just wish it didn't have to come out this way."

Shawn keeps pictures of him and Jeff on his computer to remember the fun they had as lovers and friends.
"I don't have as much fun with anyone else. I don't even like clubs anymore. When I go, I just stand around and I'm bored. I just wish that somehow I could have helped him not be so down and out all the time."

Amanda says she hopes to pay tribute to her lost friend by giving her first son the middle name of Jeffrey. "We were so good together, as friends and as a couple. There was such a strong bond."

To Jeff's mother, "It's a devastating nightmare. He was a kind and compassionate person. I know how he died, but I'll never know why."

Jeff's father is filled with regrets. He knows Jeff wasn't a bad person because he was gay, he just never told him. He bowed his chin to his chest to hide his tears. He lifted his head up to reveal his red, watery eyes.
"I just really miss him. At Jeff's funeral the minister tried to talk to me. I said 'I don't think I believe in God right now. I feel like He let me down.'"

This article doesn't contain pictures. It doesn't need to. The pictures of what happened to Jeffrey Price are there for all to see. It was a death that shouldn't have happened. One that is all too familiar to most gay people.

I thank Kris Wernowsky of the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader for giving birth to this article. I'd also like to thank Jeff's friend Joe, who wrote to me after seeing this story on another site, for sending me the picture of Jeff shown in this article.

This is something every minister, priest, and pastor should think about before telling a young gay person that they can change their sexuality, that they weren't born that way. It's also something every straight person, especially parents of gay children, needs to understand so they can stop berating them about who they are. Gay teens, like any kids, respond to uplifting messages - not to put-downs that make them feel like outcasts in society.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not blaiming Jeff's parents or his minister for Jeff's death. That was a choice, however desperate, that Jeff made himself. My point is that if you continue to tell a person they are wrong in who they are, tell them they are unacceptable in life as they are and give them no option but to change the unchangeable, sooner or later they will believe you.

How many gay sons and daughters have to die before people will accept them for who they are and treat them like regular human beings?

# posted by Marcia Ellen @ 2:29 PM
It is sad that he had to commit such a horrendous act.
Well, he didn't HAVE to. But it is sad that he felt he did. I agree Vlad. But unfortunately this is what happens when parents push their kids and tell them they aren't normal. Over 1,000 times a year gay youths commit suicide because they just can't take the abuse.
There are way too many tragedies like this. The parents should be punished.
Ah, but by publishing this "reprint" you have blamed both the parents and the minister. You have accepted something as true simply because it was printed in the newspaper. What you don't know is the the newspaper author severely misquoted the youth pastor and intentionally painted him in a bad light. He used inflammatory words in an attempt to push his own agenda. You were not there in the conversations with the youth pastor, which were geared more toward helping Jeff deal with the emotional pain he had experienced in his brief life. The youth pastor would have never used the words "rid your body". I know I was present on numerous occasions when Jeff came just to talk. He was never pressured to become something different. Maybe his journal says something different. Maybe Jeff heard something other than what we were saying; we will never be certain. What is certain is that Jeff first and foremost was our friend. We loved him and value the time we had with him, and we would appreciate it if people would stop characterizing our friendship as something it was not. Such irresponsible repeating of inaccurate information only brings more pain to people who have lost someong they loved dearly.
Alright well first of all, he was my brother and I don't appreciate people saying that he killed himself. Yeah, the article that was written made it seem as if he actually took part in this horrrible act, but he didn't do it. He hated guns. And if he were to do something like this, don't you think he would have said something to someone or possibly have tryed to make peace with my mom, dad and I? Yeah, I think he would have. And I highly doubt that if someone were planning on killing themselves, they wouldn't have payed their car payment and their cell phone bill the same day they planned on taking their own life. I appreciate the fact that people actually took time to write this article, but it's making it seem asif he killed himself. The artilce doesn't say everything, now does it. Shawn told so many different stories and he was jealous of my brother. He tryed to do everything he could to try to ruin whatever he had good in his life. I believe that Shawn had some part in it, but there is not enough evidence to prove he did. It was either an accident and he is afraid to confess up, or he MEANT to do it. And I also believe his mom payed off the cops, because the things the cops were saying to us regarding my brothers death, made no sence what's so ever and they seemed like they didn't know what to say. This is complete and total bullshit. My parents didn't teach my brother it was wrong to be gay, and they didn't put him down for it. My dad had trouble accepting the fact that his son was gay, but it was NOT my parents fault and for people to say they should be punished, fuck off. My brother is 6 feet under without no explanation why, and I strongly beleive this was not an accident. But I have no proove. Yeah, I hope you people stop assuming he killed himself. If you have anything to discuss, IM me or talk to me. Xrocknrollbabix.

Thank you.
You need to know the whole story before posting the comments that you do. The investigation was never completely done and there are no real reports. So untill there are just back off. I know the family and the way that they talk about Jeff, it seems to me that he would never do anything like that.
Hey Lady!!!

I just stumbled across you and had to say hello!

I should be working (shhh) but I didn't know you were here on blogger now.

Personally, I think that once a person becomes comfortible in their own skin happiness is easier to bear. I truly dislike pasotrs who think they know all the answers because in heaven there aren't going to be a lot things...

Gender is one of them.

Color is the other.

So all this hate we are suffering now is for not.

I think God is above little things like sexual perference...

He wants to know if you know how to Love and do you know who His Son is.

At least that what I think.

Anyway, I miss you.
Bush and the Republicans were not protecting us on 9-11, and we aren't a lot safer now. We may be more afraid due to george bush, but are we safer? Being fearful does not necessarily make one safer. Fear can cause people to hide and cower. What do you think? How does that work in a democracy again? How does being more threatening make us more likeable?Isn't
the country with the most weapons the biggest threat to the rest of the world? When one country is the biggest threat to the rest of the world, isn't that likely to be the most hated country?
If ever there was ever a time in our nation's history that called for a change, this is it!
The more people that the government puts in jails, the safer we are told to think we are. The real terrorists are wherever they are, but they aren't living in a country with bars on the windows. We are.
It dosent mater if your gay or not u will still go to hevean no mater what.
I was a friend of Jeff. I knew him from the club and he worked with me as well. In fact a week before he shot himself our mutual friend who had reffered him got the refferal bonus. It was with a group home for MH/MR clients.
He was a good guy and his story although sad has helped a lot of people in this area open their eyes to reality that it isn't a choice.
Who in the world would make a choice to become part of the most hated minority there is?
I think that Jeff in his sad way helped this area take a huge step forward. We won't ever forget him.

No one was to blame but the ones who lied to him and told him it was wrong and unnatural. He was pushed to the brink and went over the edge.
I love you Jeff. I know for a fact your family is out for money in your death. They're looking to use you like they always had. I like how they pretend to have been close to you, but the only one that truely cared (And yes, you said it alot!) Was your mom. I'm sorry they're doing this, we all know it was an accident, and you'd take it back if you could. Maybe they'll be happy that the bills will be paid - without you there, I wonder if the hot water is on? You saved it lots of times for them, now without you I am sure they are struggling. You told me too much. They'll need to apologize for using you - even though you have passed, they're still trying to figure out a way. <3 You Babes!
Keep making up lies Kim, it may make you feel better - but it's making it worse for the people that truely loved and accepted him. Bet you were happy getting his CAR, then making Shawn feel guilty so he would fix all the problems on it you created. I do know too much, STOP USING JEFF!!!!
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