Personal Stories of Local
Personal Stories of Local
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
Some may prefer to remain anonymous. We hope that
this will remind everyone that “you are not
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
Loving my first born
By Kimberly Gazzo
I remember the day we brought her home from the
hospital, appalled that ‘they’ had let ‘us’ bring her home all by
ourselves. We were in our thirties, but we still wondered if we had what
it takes to be good parents. She has been a wonder, a delight and the
greatest catalyst for growth God has ever placed on two parents.
It started with the early onset ADHD. She was
walking, and even climbing out of her crib, at nine months (we have dated
pictures to prove it). From there she never looked back. I always
said she never got sick because she moved too fast for the germs to catch
her. And of all things, her ‘love language’ was quality time, and she
wanted me to keep up with her. She was challenging, enchanting and
As she entered her teen years, she brought yet
another level of love for us to achieve. At first, looking for a name for
how she felt, she told us she was a lesbian. We were okay with this and
loved her just as much. Then she and her best friend decided they were a
couple. They had already been having sleepovers for years—we had some very
difficult parenting decisions to make.
Over the next several years, we educated ourselves,
advocated for our child and continued to love who she was becoming. We
weren’t quite prepared, though, when she realized her true nature, the person
she is inside, was a boy. This is called transgendered, when the essence
of a person is different than the biological sex they were born with.
He is in the midst of ‘transition’ now, moving toward
‘presenting’ as a male. He wears a binding vest most days and has asked me
to use male pronouns when referring to him. I am careful to clearly
communicate why this is difficult for me, but that I will do my very best.
I can only thank God that our Community of Christ congregation and our regional
church leadership have completely embraced my wonderful child and support him on
his journey of becoming.
There have been difficult days, and I have mourned
the loss of my daughter, which will probably always be with me. But
through gaining a son, God has taught me a love so profound that I rejoice every
day he is in my life. It never ceases to amaze me how God walks with me through
every twist and turn of life’s path. By learning to love my firstborn
unconditionally, I have explored depths of acceptance and compassion I never
could have imagined. He has helped to make me a better parent and a better