Personal Stories of Local

PFLAG Members

Although there are common denominators that have brought us all together, we all have our own story. This page is for members of PFLAG Ithaca Cortland to share their experiences with others in the community.  

Some may prefer to remain anonymous. We hope that this will remind everyone that  “you are not alone”.


My name is Kathy Gilleran.  My son Aeryn has been missing since October 29, 2007 in Vienna, Austria.  He lived there for approx. 6 years and worked for UNIDO, a part of the UN.  I started a website regarding my son’s disappearance  http://www.aeryngillern.com/  (click on link)    The website details the homophobic behavior of the Austrian Police as well as the lack of assistance from the US Embassy.  It is a cautionary tale for anyone who has loved ones abroad, and specifically for those that are LGBT.

GONE the documentary film about the disappearance of my son, Aeryn Gillern,  was an official selection of the Tribeca Film Festival, and made it World’s Premier April 23, 2011.  For more information please click on the link above.

PFLAG National was the only national organization that offered me assistance in getting the word out about my son and making sure it reached the media.  I joined the local PFLAG Ithaca-Cortland Chapter in the fall of 2008.

I recently attended a “Coming Out” candlelight vigil at the Blue Frog in Cortland, in memory of those innocents who were lost due to many hateful actions of homophobic people and stigma from a world where so many deprive gays, lesbians. and transgenders from acceptance and respect. As I watched the faces on the screen of those young people who no longer are with us, my heart raced and tears filled my eyes. “Why God, why is this happening” I thought. I looked over at my loved one and I thought... this must never happen to you. What can I do to help you, but also so many others? I spoke out that night and had my own sense of coming out as a Grandmother who loved her Grandson and accepted him for the person he is. When he came to me, before he told anyone else, and said Grandma I need to tell you something. With tears in his eyes, “I am gay”, I hugged him, I cried with him, and I told him I loved him, and it was okay. I will be here for you always.


He is 17 now and it has been awhile since that day. We have both learned so much since then . He had to be quiet about who he was for a long time and it was rough, but he did it. I told the group at the Coming Out Vigil that it was the most beautiful moment I have ever experienced when he confided in ME. To tell me who he was before he told anyone else was so very special to me. This is the same boy I have always loved and is no different in my eyes. Why can't others feel that way about their loved ones? Why can't the world accept that these are people who love and laugh and care like anyone else? Why must they be degraded and felt that they are less of a person?


It is my desire and intention the rest of my lifetime to take a stand for these people who are just as good, loving , caring , and deserving individuals as anyone else. We who want to make change come will band together and strive for that change to happen . We will try to bring an awareness and  understanding to others.  Eventually, and hopefully, love.


These hate crimes and suicides must end, and all of us , in PFLAG and individually can try to be an advocate for Gay, Lesbians, Transgenders, and others in need of support. Let's do it !


A Grandmother that truly cares....Kay Scutt