When a 12-year-old boy lost his friends after coming out as gay, his mother worried he’d have to celebrate his birthday alone – but their community refused to let that happen.
Mum Leah O’Donnell says her son Brody Neville was ditched by many of his friends when came out as gay this spring, leaving him feeling utterly “dejected”.
With his 12th birthday approaching on 28 August, Brody feared he’d have no one to share it with.
“I was asking him what he wanted to do for his birthday and he was in tears and said since he came out as gay he lost all his friends, so he didn’t even have people who could come,” O’Donnell told CBC.
Only two friends stood by Brody after coming out, but neither could make it. “One of the girl’s fathers is against anything LGBTQ therefore does not allow her to hang out very often, the other girl we cannot get ahold of,” his mother explained.
So she put out a desperate appeal on Facebook: Would anyone from the community be willing to attend a party in the park for a kid who could use a little support?
“I am hoping that some of our village might be able to swing by to offer birthday wishes as well as support for my sweet little guy. I know he could really use the boost,” she said.
Thankfully, they didn’t let her down. When the day came dozens of friends, family and kind strangers filled the park in Calgary, Canada, to shower Brody with love and support.
“Showing up here today and seeing how many people in solidarity love him… it brought my faith back in humanity during such a tumultuous time in society,” local drag queen Jessica Tailfeathers told CBC.
She and fellow drag act Avanna Kedvra put on an impromptu performance of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way, while one anonymous donor even brought a free ice cream truck.
When Brody first arrived in the park he initially thought the crowd was an unusually large queue for ice cream; when he realised he was the guest of honour, he wrapped his mum into a giant hug.
“Thank you everybody for this, this is the best day of my life,” he told the crowd with a grin on his face. “That’s the greatest present of all, support and people in it together with you.”
His mother was overwhelmed by the response to her Facebook plea and thanked her community for giving them “a day our family will never forget”.
“To our new friends, it is absolutely amazing that you felt drawn to attend and to shower Brody with your gifts and messages of love and support for what he is and will continue to go through on his journey,” she said.