Julion Evans of Tampa, Florida died last month of amyloidosis at the tender age of 42.
The congregation of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church of Tampa, Florida had agreed immediately to have the funeral at their church – that is, until a piece of information surfaced that the congregation did not know. What was that little piece of information? That Julion was “survived by his husband,” Kendall Capers, as stated in a public obituary in the local newspaper. Julion was gay, and married his gay partner, Kendall Capers (though he retained his last name).
The congregation did not know this, as it seems that Julion’s mother did not reveal her son’s sexual orientation. She told NBC News that she was standing at her son’s casket during the wake when she received a call that the funeral was cancelled. The reason? Her son was gay and in a gay marriage.
Both Julion’s mother and Kendall are hurt after receiving the news. He is going through a rough time with his husband’s loss, and does not understand what difference his sexual orientation makes. He says that he and Julion “did not wake up one morning and say, ‘Let’s be gay'”; instead, they have tried to accept their sexual orientation as “something we were born with,” Kendall said. Julion’s family had been members at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church all his life, and Kendall said that it made sense for Julion to remain at New Hope where his family was.
Now, it seems as though there will not be a funeral for Julion there, and Kendall simply has nowhere to go with this news. New Hope Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Rev. Dr. T.W. Jenkins said in a telephone statement that New Hope Missionary Baptist Church does not endorse gay marriage and, as for himself, “I try not to condemn anyone’s lifestyle, but at the same time, I am a man of God and have to stand upon my principals [sic].”
Kendall says that, despite Pastor Jenkins’s stance along with the church’s, he and Julion’s marriage was not secret. “Our relationship wasn’t a secret. Everybody knew,” Kendall said.