Grindr User Rev. Matthew Makela Once Drove This Gay Teen To Near Suicide

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 8.42.58 AMA 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:

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  • AtticusBennett

    and THIS is why i fully support the Outings of these specific brand of coward.

    for all the pearl-clutchers saying how MEANNNN the gays are for making his family’s life SOOOOO hard – uh, no. this heinous man was harming others. and now he can’t.

  • SebX

    AGREED!! These people aren’t innocent in the least. Their unforgivable hypocrisy put young people’s lives in danger, or at least through mental torment and anguish.
    Out the bitches, I say!

  • AtticusBennett

    i can understand being born into a bigoted family, church and community. it happens to almost ALL lgbt people.

    i have NO sympathy for grown adults who continue the cycle and seek to harm others in the exact same way they’ve been harmed.

    he has a choice now – do the right thing, call out the bigotry, and work to undo and end it. if he doesn’t he’s of no use on this earth.

  • Texasteacher

    I agree! This is precisely why we should support outings! This pastor almost cost a teenager his life. I like what Tyler says, “I wish him well, but only as his truer self.” That is so eloquently spoken. Religious beliefs that fall under the weight of truth aren’t worth holding on to. Find a higher spiritual path than one that excludes and find a more inspirational religious leader. You deserve it!

  • jwtraveler

    Why do parents continue to subject themselves and their children to organizations that preach hatred of the children? No defense of Mr. Makela, but putting children in these situations is child abuse.

  • da90027

    One of the things I love about being an athiest is I have no hangups or stigmas attached to what I eat think or do…I know the difference between right and wrong and don’t need to refer to some book of fiction written 2000 years ago to tell me how I should live my life. I read an article recently that many these days are shunning religion. It seems all the hate and killing in this world is perpetrated by people going overboard defending their god. Kind of sad this woman moved just to join a church. Then subjected her child to these hypocrites.

  • kolwen

    Meanwhile, in the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (Pastor Makela’s denomination):

    “Conference presenters have been hand-picked to provide attendees with essential understandings and a verbal tool kit so that we can speak confidently about one-man and one-woman marriage in any setting.”


  • salex

    when i was 12, I’m now 78, i was told by a priest after confessing to masturbation, “that I’m no better than a dog, a dog can’t control himself and neither could i” to this day the SHAME associated with his message has had negative, lost opportunities as well as many worthless thoughts including suicide.

  • MrEguy

    They should sue that stupid cult/church and that closeted pastor. How many young people nearly took their own life because of this man? Perhaps someone DID and we just haven’t heard about it yet.

  • Pitou

    Priests and pastors often assume the role of counselors or “therapists” to their flock for whatever religious healing they claim to provide. Why is it that a priest and even the entire congregation as a whole (as in the church itself) cannot be held accountable for fraudulent or unsound/discredited practices.
    A licensed therapist/social worker/counselor is required to uphold the Hippocratic oath, why is it that church provided counsel, typically a priest, is not? They are providing the same exact type of “care” as a non-prescribing therapist, why shouldn’t they be held to the same legal standards as such. Especially when they are providing said care to minors, their procedures and practices should be under strict scrutiny.

    Id be interested to know what actual legal scholars think about this or the possibility that a religious organization or religious leader could be held liable for their actions in regards to counseling. In a sense, the accountability for religious therapy (at the very least to minors) is no less important than the accountability for raping children, and as long as its reported to the proper authorities, said religious institutions should be held liable.

    Practicing ones religion and harming the emotional and physical wellbeing of a child (or any person for that matter really) are not one in the same and personally, its about damn time something is done about it.

  • polarisfashion

    @AtticusBennett: Yup, in a world that assumes we are straight when born, there is a lot of confusion growing up when we start to notice something “different” is going on with us compared to the “normal” people. Its so sad that we lose so many people to suicide because of what evil bastards like this minister, or bigoted family members do to LGBTQ kids. Maybe things are better now than they used to be, but I’ll believe it when there are no more bullies, no more bigots, and no more kids trying to kill themselves!

  • jason smeds

    You’d have to be misguided to use Grindr in the first place. It’s generally for impulsive people with no lives.

  • nature boy

    Bravo and big hugs to Tyler and his Mom !!!!! Awesome! Thanks for speaking publicly !!!

  • NoCagada

    @jason smeds: And, what, son….you surveyed them?

    “I’m NOT one of THOSE gays!”

  • TrekBear

    Having grown up as the son of a Missouri Synod Lutheran pastor, this story hits very close to home. The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is a very, very conservative organization that isn’t at all supportive of any deviation from doctrine, even if the doctrine isn’t Biblical.

  • Giancarlo85

    The outing of hypocrites is a necessity in order to defend the dignity of those being abused by these fools.

    I support outing all bigots who are saying one thing yet doing the other behind closed doors. These conservatives and libertarian bigots are killers.

  • obiwanknobe

    “Since you are going to burn in hell because you are gay, it wouldn’t make any difference if you burned in hell for committing suicide.” What a terrible thing to tell anyone. Hearing this from a pastor whose opinion you respect would drive a fair share to suicide. What a great Mother Tyler has. Some parents would shun their children if they share Makela’s hateful ideas. Question: if Tyler had committed suicide, would Pastor Makela be guilty of murder? Or is this excused in the Book of Concord? Just asking……..

  • Daniel-Reader

    If they make money off it, it is a business. Religion is big business in the USA and around the world. If they believed their god existed, they would be doing it for free instead of lining their pockets.

  • Transiteer

    To make people do horrible things to others, they need to have religion. Defrock, shame and jail this coward, for the harm he’s done to others. Remove the tax exempt status of all churches and make them pay their taxes. Religion is poison. It is of little to no use in this world, but is of immeasurable harm.

  • Saint Law

    @jason smeds: i.e. You’re on it 24/7.

    But no takers huh.

  • NSB2244

    These people should not be afforded any compassion for they do not show any compassion towards the people whose lives they destroy under the guise of religion not to mention hypocrisy as they themselves are gay…they should be fully exposed, defrocked and if it is shown that their behavior has caused harm to another individual, especially a child, then they should also be held criminally liable. If you are in a position of authority and you abuse that position, then you should pay the price!

  • gaym50ish

    I agree with Reverend Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance and spiritual advisor to lesbian country singer Chely Wright during her coming-out process.

    He said, “There’s nobody quite as mean as people being mean for Jesus.”

  • tony4444

    Tyler is a very bright, humble and nice person. He said that he wishes the pastor happiness, but only as his true self and that he began to realize that the terrible things the pastor was telling him is what he had been telling himself for years. Very mature and I’m glad to see that it seems like he doesn’t have anger in him and has dealt with this in a positive way. Tyler, I wish you and your Mom much happiness in your lives. The world needs more people like you.

  • sfbeast

    The mother pretends she is supporting her son in the video, but she’s the one who moved them and brought them to that church.

  • JaredMacBride

    @sfbeast: I agree with you. The mother and her phony religion are at least as much to blame for the son’s problems as the “reverend.”

  • jwtraveler

    Individual delusion is called mental illness; mass delusion is called religion.

  • Timothy S. Welther

    Proud of this young man taking the “high road”. It takes a big person to forgive someone who wronged you..

  • jenkish

    @AtticusBennett: TYLER is an amazing kid and despite the backlash he knew what he needed to do. I couldn’t be more proud of my son. Every time he reads words of support he knows he did the right thing.

  • jenkish

    @sfbeast: I am absolutely NOT pretending to support my son. I grew up in a Lutheran Church in a neighboring city where we were taught to “love one another and if you have God in your heart then you will go to Heaven” That simple. I never in a million years thought choosing a Church that I THOUGHT taught love could ever turn in to something like this. I’ve never wavered from my love and support for ALL human beings regardless of who they love. Some of my very best friends are homosexual and I can’t tell you how much it’s warmed my heart to see some of them now being able to marry their loves. I have been disowned by my parents and other family members for helping Tyler use his voice. I have zero regrets and will ALWAYS fight till my last breath to not only support my children but anything that I believe is right.

  • jenkish

    @sfbeast: I had NO idea that something like this could have happened at this Church. I grew up in Lutheran Church that taught only love. There are even gay Pastors in some Lutheran Churches. For years that was the message but when Makela came that began to change. I immediately went to bat for Tyler… this hasn’t happened all that long ago and still working hard to get past what’s happened. I am BEYOND proud of my Son. I’ve known since Tyler was about 2 years old that he was gay so deep down I knew I would be fighting on his behalf against narrow minded bigots and that’s a fight I’ve always been proud to fight. I’ve been disowned by family members over this but I’d do it again for my child and in the name of what is right

  • jenkish

    @nature boy: Thank you!!!!

    • nature boy

      You’re welcome. Was your old church LCMS too? I too had a church I loved, that had struggled in the past with accepting gays, but had finally become completely welcoming to gays and lesbians. I adored that church and they really “sold” me on Christianity. Then I moved and thought I would quickly find a new church like my old church. I was wrong ! They’re all different. I am currently worshipping as an openly gay man at a LCMS church…. which is somewhat uncomfortable,given the synod’s overall conservatism, but I like the choir director who is straight but very gay friendly and actively progressive. Sometimes I want to leave to find a church where being gay is not such an issue for people, but then I have other friends who say “those churches don’t need you, it’s the churches that don’t want you that need you the most. Christianity is not for wimps!” So, I think it would be completely OK for you either to stay at your current church if you can endure it, and be an agent for change from within, as loudly or as quietly as you want, or … move to a more progressive denomination like ELCA Lutheran or United Church of Christ (UCC). (Of course each local church may be more or less welcoming than the main denomination.) Even some but not all Presbyterians have voted to allow gay marriage and gay clergy so that’s another option. Anyway, thanks again for recognizing what’s right, and taking the risk and effort to speak publicly about it. I’m sure you have already helped many people beyond your own family.

    • jenkish

      @nature boy: Thank you again:) Yes it was… they talk love as if modern day hippies and I loved it. I wanted the same for my kids. Given what I was taught having gone to the school as well, I thought with TYLER being obviously different then most boys his age beginning around age 2 that a smaller group of people that shared in the teachings of LOVE would be safest and an environment he could thrive in. Schools have been tough at time for my soft spoken, sweet, considerate, EXTREMELY talented boy. I was doing what I thought was best. I’ve lost family over speaking up but it’s all worth it if Ty has peace in his heart and has helped possibly save someone else from the same pain. Our world has become so hateful and people wonder why the world is falling apart. When did it become so hard to love one another for who we are without judgement.

    • nature boy

      Don’t be discouraged, there’s actually way more love in the world now and the arc of justice is moving relentlessly toward acceptance and love and equality. You are helping push it along. It takes a while because some people actually have to die of old age before they will let go of the prejudices they were raised with. What makes it seem discouraging today is that social media and the internet have made it possible for any random ass-hat to spew his venom to a global audience, with no filters. So the hate, although less and less in reality, becomes magnified and spread more rapidly in today’s media that has fewer filters. Your son is coming of age in a way more tolerant world than I did, and you and he are in turn making it easier for those who come after him. I’ve always known that Jesus would have totally welcomed gays and lesbians to his church, and in fact I suspect Jesus himself may well have been gay, so I just keep that in mind when dealing with Christian haters. They’re just ignorant.

      On a completely different topic, I always recommend to people who are newly “out” that they make sure they have done the Hepatitus B vaccine series, HPV vaccine, and your son should also become knowledgeable about new options for HIV prevention with PreP. If I was a young single gay man I would go on it.

  • jenkish

    @tony4444: Thank you so very much! You described Tyler to a T. He has the most loving and tender soul of anyone you’ve ever met. I couldn’t be more proud to be his Mother. Thank you again for such kind words.

  • jenkish

    @nature boy: Thank you for that information! Definitely gave me more to talk to him about. We’ve done some but not all that you’ve listed. I’m going to share all of your comments with Tyler. He’ll appreciate them all as do I. THANK YOU AGAIN!

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