Julie Atwood was standing at her son's casket when the phone rang. The church where her son's funeral was scheduled to be held the next day decided to abruptly cancel the service, after the pastor learned the deceased was gay and his obituary listed a surviving "husband." Atwood said she was told it would be "blasphemous" to hold the services at the church because her son, Julion Evans, 42, was gay. "It was devastating," she said. "I did feel like he was being denied the dignity of death."The family's had sought New Hope Missionary Baptist Church because they expected to have hundreds of mourners at the funeral and their own church was too small to accommodate those numbers. Atwood had been baptized at New Hope and used to attend that church when she was younger.
Evans' husband, Kendall Capers, says the pair were partners for 17 years and married last year in Maryland. Evans died at home after a 4-year battle with a rare illness called Amyloidosis, which destroys organs in the body. He says the obituary named him as "husband," and that their marriage was no secret. "Everyone who knew us knew about our relationship," he said. "We didn't keep secrets."
Apparently, members of the congregation objected to Evans' obituary, which indicated that he was survived by his husband Kendall Capers, among others.
The family were left with 24 hours to find a new location for the funeral and to notify everyone of the change in venue. Unfortunately, not everyone heard and several people showed up at New Hope as originally planned and missed Evans' funeral.