Wednesday, October 3, 2012

LGBT History Month: Aaron Fricke

Image Source, edited by Diana *BunnyKissd* Bukowski

Born January 25, 1962, in Providence, RI, Aaron Fricke is known for suing his school for the right to bring his same-sex date to his high school senior prom.  The previous year, 1979, another student, Paul Guilbert, has made the same request for his senior prom, was denied, and subsequently didn't go.  Fricke asked for himself in 1980, and sued when he was also denied.  For standing up to the discrimination, Fricke was beaten, needing stitches on his face (his assailant was merely suspended for 9 days) and administration to escort him between classes as protection.

In the end, he not only won the right to take his date to the prom (Paul Guilbert who was denied the opportunity the previous year), but the school was also required to provide security to keep them safe. In an essay Fricke wrote in 1983, he described the evening:
The crowd receded.  As I laid my head on Paul's shoulder, I saw a few students start to stare at us.  I closed my eyes and listened to the music [Bob Seger's "We've Got the Night"], my thoughts wandering over the events of the evening.  When the song ended, I opened my eyes.  A large crowd of students had formed a ring around us.  Probably most of them had never seen two happy men embracing in a slow dance.  For a moment I was uncomfortable.

Then I heard the sound that I knew so well as a B-52s fan.  One of my favorite songs was coming up: "Rock Lobster."

Paul and I began dancing free-style.  Everyone else was still staring at us, but by the end of the first stanza, several couples had also begun dancing.  The song had a contagious enthusiasm to it, and with each bar, more dancers came onto the floor.

I doubt that any two people were dancing with the same movements: the dancing was an expression of our individuality, and no one felt bad about being different.  Everyone was free to be themselves.

I could see that everyone felt a sense of disorientation.  For six minutes and forty-nine seconds, the students on the dance floor had forgotten about their defenses, forgotten about their shells.  We just had fun.

Fricke went on to write a book about growing up gay, Reflections of a Rock Lobster, and another book with his father, Sudden Strangers.  Since 1980, the Fricke v. Lynch decision has been used frequently to uphold students' right to bring same-sex dates to public school dances across the nation, sadly, as recently as just last prom season.


Also this month:

~ October is also National Bullying Prevention Month.

~ October 10th is Unity Day; wear orange to show your support and remind others about the importance of bullying prevention.

~ October 11th is National Coming Out Day when we celebrate coming out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or as an ally. See the Human Rights Campaign website for resources on coming out.

~ October 19th is Spirit Day; wear purple on this day to support LGBT youth & stand up against bullying.

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