A mother and her gay son from Midland, Michigan have come forward with new information about how Reverend Matthew Makela behaved in his position as associate pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church before Queerty broke the news about his Grindr profile earlier this week.
Jennifer Kish says Makela nearly drove her then 17-year-old son Tyler to suicide.
“We had moved to Midland specifically to go to this church,” Jennifer told WNEM, but when Tyler was beginning to come to terms with his sexuality, Makela told him he’d be going to hell because he was gay.
Makela’s fire and brimstone (not to mention entirely hypocritical) warning caused Tyler to suffer serious depression and suicidal thoughts, and he reportedly told Tyler that the “sin of being gay is no different than the sin of committing suicide.”
“If he’s going to hell for being gay then he might as well commit suicide,” Jennifer said.
“What I took away from that is that I needed to repent and hold onto the hope that God could change me,” Tyler recalled.
Jennifer added that Makela became active on social media when her son came out, publicly broadcasting that it was wrong for Tyler to be gay and urging Jennifer not to support him.
Even before Makela was exposed, Jennifer confronted Makela about his dangerous attitude.
“Kinda set me into action, tell him what he could have done, other kids didn’t have a support system like Tyler had,” she said.
“I wish him happiness, but only as his truest self,” Tyler added.
Watch the segment below:
Here’s a follow-up segment in which Tyler shares his story: