Steve Austin, who died in Alabama in what seemed to be a suicide, first came out publicly and acknowledged being queer.
As previously reported, Austin's family and friends were shocked and saddened by his untimely death.
Approximately two weeks before he was discovered dead, Austin revealed in his Substack newsletter that he had been living a lie for the previous three decades in order "to appease a group of people who only support you if you follow their rules and live up to their unfair and unrealistic expectations," the Christian Post (CP) reported.
"I knew I wasn't completely straight when I was twelve. Sure, I've been in hetero (or straight-passing) relationships all my life, but that's not exactly who I am. Well, the hiding ends today," he wrote.
"Vulnerability is my favorite characteristic in any human," Austin added, explaining why he opted to consider himself a queer.
He also shared that, owing to his wife's support, he had decided to make a public statement about his queerness.
Austin's suicide and his book "Hiding in the Pews: Shining Light on Mental Illness in the Church" followed his confession on May 23 which he disclosed to his wife in 2018.
"When I first shared my truth with Lindsey back in 2018, she didn't shrink back in fear," he explained. "She didn't pull away in disgust. She didn't file for divorce. She took my most significant concern, wrapped it in unconditional love and acceptance, and handed it back to me."
An appeal for his wife
Before he was found dead on June 7, he wrote about his wife in a June 2 entry in his "Faith + Mental Health" newsletter.
"For a bit of back story, Lindsey switched from one SSRI to another a little more than two weeks ago. After several nights of no sleep, increased blood pressure, and some new mental health symptoms, she was treated at our local emergency room last Wednesday. Unfortunately, things worsened from there," he wrote.
"Lindsey is now at a hospital downtown, where she's been for a few days, and will likely be for another week. I don't want to go into too many specifics because I cherish Lindsey's privacy. But please keep her brain and body in your prayers," he requested.
He also asked his newsletter subscribers for help in raising money for his wife Lindsey, who had had a mental health crisis only a week after he came out as queer.
He explained that his wife could not work well because of her illness and could only perform minimal tasks. He encouraged anybody who would want to financially aid his family to give using CashApp, Venmo or PayPal.
CP noted that it is unknown how much his appeal raised, but the late pastor said that local friends and relatives had "scooped up" their two children, a nine-year-old boy and a seven year old girl.
Meanwhile, as of Monday afternoon, a GoFundMe account set up to assist Austin's family with funeral expenses had generated more than $32,000 in three days.