Reflections of a Rock Lobster Fan

What have YOU accomplished in 30 years? I bet it's more than the progression of acceptance for gay men and women!

Yesterday we saw the play “Reflections of a Rock Lobster” put on by the Boston Children’s Theater in Boston. The play is about the real life experience of gay high school student Aaron Fricke. During the play we learn that Aaron is funny, sweet, gets excellent grades, cares about his fellow students, doesn’t hate, loves his family and is ... gay. Aaron’s struggle with whether or not to come out to the public as a gay man is palpable and when he finally does, as one might expect, he experiences both acceptance and rejection, both from places expected and surprising. Despite having been relentlessly bullied in high school, Aaron sued the Cumberland (Rhode Island) High School to be permitted to bring his (male) date to the senior prom.  Did I mention this took place in 1980, over 30 years ago?

Aaron won his lawsuit – one of the first of its kind – and attended the prom with his date, albeit under heavy “security”.  The principal of the school, Richard Lynch, under instruction from the judge that Aaron and his date be protected from the sort of overt physical attacks that took place all of Aaron’s days while at school, attempted to segregate and isolate Aaron and his date from the other students.  I won’t give away the ending, but suffice it to say it was eye opening and triumphant.

Now some of you may know that I am from Cumberland, Rhode Island.  And I was friends with Aaron in middle school; good friends.  Aaron was – is – uproariously funny, witty, kind, gentle, loving, smart (SO smart!) and is now a full time activist and advocate.  I caught wind of “Reflections of a Rock Lobster” on Facebook, of all places, and ended up engaged in a little tiff with a producer of a well known local television program when I felt he had mischaracterized Aaron. (The producer apologized.) That led to Aaron and I reconnecting and I was overjoyed yesterday when I was able to give him a great big hug and tell him in person how proud I am of his accomplishments.

So that’s the back-story.  Here’s the REAL reason for this post.  When I told my 14 year old son last week about the play we would be attending, he said “Wait, didn’t this happen 30 years ago?”  When I said yes, he thought for a minute and then, almost ruefully, said “Wow, there hasn’t been all that progress since then, has there?”

That, folks, is a bleeding shame.  That we haven’t broadened our tolerance, our acceptance of the gay population is tragic.  I mean, literally tragic.  Tyler Clementi. Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover. Jamey Rodemeyer. Asher Brown. Seth Walsh. Justin Aarber. Jacob Rogers. All committed suicide after being bullied to the point where they felt taking their own lives was the only solution to resolving their pain.  And, dear God, Matthew Shepard. Offered a ride home by two humanimals, Shepard was instead driven to a remote area, robbed, pistol whipped, tortured, tied to a fence and left to die. Why?  Because he was gay.  Only that.

In 30 years we have progressed so little.  Only eight states recognize marriages between persons of the same sex.  It’s still OK to call someone a “fag” or a “faggot” as a pejorative. Why isn’t that as bad as calling someone the “n” word?  What is it about homosexuality that threatens so many people?  Guess what folks?  Homosexuality has been around as long as we have ALL been around. Show me where being gay has caused any historical dysfunction. Has posed a threat to humanity. Where treating gay men and women with respect and tolerance has somehow diminished YOUR life. You can’t, can you? 

Now I know this post may incite some comments from people who disagree with what I am going to say next but opinions are like armpits; everyone has one and everyone thinks everyone else's stinks.  This is NOT an opinion; this is a fact. People who are gay do NOT CHOOSE to be so.  They are born that way, just as are people who have brown eyes, blond hair, freckles ... there’s no choice in the matter.  So why the intolerance?  And why is it that a 14 year old kid can see the shameful lag in progression of acceptance but our gay brothers and sisters are still fighting for basic rights?

I am looking forward to spending some time this week with an old friend who is funny, sweet, accomplished, a published author, cares about his fellow humans, doesn’t hate, loves his family and is ... oh yeah ... gay.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Karen Salemi March 05, 2012 at 08:59 PM
What a beautiful piece of writing, Brenda! You made my eyes tear up. I believe we have come a long way in gay rights in recent years but we still have a long way to go. People like Aaron who are willing to go to court for their beliefs are among the brave ones who affect change. The rest of us can help by supporting them which you have clearly done with this writing.
Kim Comatas March 05, 2012 at 10:43 PM
Great post Brenda - often times its difficult for youth from MA to comprehend why it's not "ok to be gay" - sometimes they see a glimpse of bullying but it's much worse in so many other parts of the country. Progress is incredibly slow - but it IS coming!! Homosexuality is found in over 450 species. Homophobia is found in only one. Which one seems unnatural now?
Brenda Crawshaw March 05, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Thanks Karen! That's why I wrote it. If my (somewhat naive in the ways of the world) 14 year old kid can instantly understand what's wrong with this picture, those of is who believe in acceptance and tolerance have to do more.
Brenda Crawshaw March 05, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Awesome fact, Kim. Humans do more injustice to one another than any other species. Are we evolved or not?
Karen Douty March 06, 2012 at 01:03 PM
This is a great piece Brenda, thanks for posting. It is so scary to me to see the extent of bullying in general that is out there...where is all this anger coming from!? I hope that anyone who reads your post will press recommend (to post on their facebook) Because spreading stories like this is one way to bring awareness.
Leah Graves March 08, 2012 at 03:49 PM
I met a wonderful couple in Chicago last week (gay 'civil union' couple to be exact). IL does not recognize gay marriage but they call it a 'union'. Still, at the Federal level they are not considered anything. Which is a shame because one of the men is a doctor for the VA (doing great things for our Veterans) and cannot share his benefits (healthcare) with his husband.
John Lam March 08, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Remarkable story. He must be a courageous individual. I'm big on the 'live and let live' thing. What doesn't hurt me shouldn't bother me. I'm not 100% being gay is always inborn though. I believe each of us is some percentage heterosexual and some other percentage homosexual. A straight guy might be 90% hetero and 10% homo. A gay guy might be 75% homo and 25% hetero. The ones whose hetero and homo percentages are close have the most difficulty. Regardless it makes no sense to persecute any group that's not harming any other individuals or negatively impacting society.
aaron fricke March 15, 2012 at 01:24 AM
Great article, Bren...
Julie Arvedon September 21, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Hi Brenda- My name is Julie Arvedon and I handle PR for Boston Children's Theatre. For some reason, your blog just came up in our Google News. Our Executive Artistic Director (and director of Rock Lobster) was thrilled to find it. A very belated thank you for your insightful comments. It was such an honor to work with Aaron and I'm so glad you two connected at the show! We are actually re-mounting Rock Lobster this season because we felt that not enough people had the opportunity to see it. We had received such a tremendous and encouraging response last March that we felt it was important to bring it back. We would love for you to join us again. I can be reached at jarvedon@bostonchildrenstheatre.org if you're interested in more information. Thank you again Brenda. I look forward to touching base. Take care- Julie Arvedon


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