Arkansas churches refuse funeral for gay man, hand out anti-gay materials to grieving family: husband
An Arkansas man’s husband says he was turned away from numerous churches while trying to hold a funeral for his deceased partner. Even the local firehouse, which was built by his father, has closed its doors to the grieving family, refusing to host a reception or memorial for James Stone, who died at the age of 32 in January, the husband said.
But there is conflicting information as to what really happened.
The Dallas Voice reported that Stone’s husband, Jay Hoskins, has been trying to find a place to memorialize his partner since Stone’s death on January 19.
The two men lived in Texas and have been together for 10 years. They were married in New Mexico six months ago on their 10th anniversary.
Stone — who struggled with Sjogren’s syndrome, a rare autoimmune disorder — was born in Clarkridge, Arkansas. Hoskins hoped to hold a memorial for Stone in Mountain Home, the closest town, but the town’s churches turned him away, he claimed.
But two Clarkridge churches contacted by The Baxter Bulletin denied being contacted and asked to perform Stone’s graveside service. Family members also told The Baxter Bulletin they canceled the reservation to use the fire station.
In the comments thread at the Voice, Hoskins wrote that the two parishioners at the Clarkridge Church of Christ handed Stone’s grieving family members envelopes stuffed with Bible verses condemning same-sex relationships.
“I have never experienced such hate and bigotry in my life,” said Hoskins.
The Baxter Bulletin confirmed that the family members received anti-gay materials following the graveside service at Thacker Cemetery.
The Dallas Voice claimed that Stone died of Sjogen’s syndrome, but according to Hoskins, Stone took his own life.
“He died a tragic death of suicide where his poor mother and myself found him hanging from a ceiling fan. I tried unsuccessfully to revive him, but it was too late,” he said.
In a separate comment, Hoskins said, “I lost the love of my life just over 2 weeks ago, and still don’t know how I am going to carry on, but will have to adapt.”
[Editor’s note: Updated with information from the The Baxter Bulletin]