NBC News reporter Vaughn Hillyard is reporting on tonight’s Roy Moore rally in Alabama. On his Twitter account, he shared raw video footage of a father talking about how he feels compelled to speak out after losing his gay daughter to suicide when she was just 23. Nathan Mathis, a peanut farmer from nearby Wicksburg, drove to the rally in favor of Roy Moore’s opponent, Doug Jones.
He brought a sign bearing a photo of his daughter, and told his story to Hillyard and other reporters there:
My name is Nathan Mathis, my daughter was Patti Sue Mathis. That’s her right there. Judge Roy Moore called her a pervert for one reason — because she was gay. If he called her a pervert, he’d call your child a pervert if she was gay. Or your son was gay. This is something people need to stop and think about. He’s supposed to uphold the constitution. The constitution says all men are created equal. Well, how’s my daughter a pervert just because she’s gay? Does it mean she was born gay? I don’t know the answer to that. But she was gay. There she is.
When he was asked what he hoped to accomplish by being out there, his voice quavered slightly as he said, “I don’t know what I accomplish. I really don’t. I had mixed emotions about coming. But somebody needs to speak up. And if it’s all to no avail, so be it. It won’t be the first time I’ve done something to no avail, OK. But my sign there speaks for itself and my sign is truth.”
A reporter at the Roy Moore rally asked if his daughter’s suicide was because of the Senate candidate’s comments. While he says Roy Moore didn’t talk about his daughter explicitly, it’s due to attitudes like his.
And then he makes a heartbreaking admission:
I was anti-gay myself. I said bad things to my daughter myself, which I regret. But I can’t take back what happened to my daughter. But stuff like saying my daughter’s a pervert? Sure, that bothered her. Now, you know, Judge Moore, not just said my daughter — he didn’t call my daughter by name. He said all gay people are perverts; abominations. That’s not true! We don’t need a person like that representing us in Washington. That’s why I’m here.
This isn’t the first time Mathis brought the story of his daughter Patti to the media. In 2012, he wrote a letter to the editor of the Dothan Eagle. In the letter he goes into more detail on Patti, as well as his own guilt for his past homophobia. The letter talks about how Patti tried conversion therapy because because she didn’t want to be gay.
Patti Sue Mathis took her own life on Mar. 22, 1995. She was only 23 years old.
Watch the heartbreaking video of Nathan Mathis at the anti-Roy Moore rally below:
Father, who says he's a local peanut farmer in Wicksburg, outside Roy Moore rally talks about losing his gay daughter at age of 23 to suicide. "I was anti-gay myself. I said bad things to my daughter, which I regret." pic.twitter.com/J0oOU0EJI2
— Vaughn Hillyard (@VaughnHillyard) December 11, 2017