Meet 13-year-old Gabriel (last name withheld), a longtime member of the music group at his Lincoln, Nebraska church. Leaders of the church recently expelled him for being gay. Amid the shock of it all, Gabriel found a new community of support.
“I was a proud member of the church,” Gabriel told KETV. For years, he rehearsed with other kids in the house of worship, prepping special music for each Sunday service. Then someone in the church noticed his Pride gear. Gabriel identifies as gay.
“The elders of the church found out I was wearing pride gear,” he recalls. “They told me since I’m a leader, they wouldn’t want me promoting things that they’re against.”
Much to the shock of Gabriel and his mother, the 8th grader found himself expelled from his church.
“He told me what happened and my heart completely broke for him,” said Colleen, Gabriel’s mother. “He loved this church.”
Colleen took to Facebook to vent her frustrations. Not long after, Colleen’s Facebook post went viral and netted an outpouring of support for the teen.
“It only took a matter of hours. It got really big, really fast,” she says. “It was unreal how positive it was. Overwhelmingly positive. These people are the examples of who we should all be.”
In addition to the kind words to Colleen and Gabriel, a local group known as Drag Queen Story Hour Nebraska posted the story to its own social media pages. It also encouraged followers to send letters of encouragement and support to young Gabriel.
“It felt really good to know that people cared. Even kids sent stuff,” Gabriel says. Stacks of mail flowed into Gabriel’s mailbox, from queer and straight folks alike, each encouraging him to love himself and disregard the actions of the church.
For Gabriel, an important life lesson has come out of the ordeal.
“There’s a lot of good in the world and there’s a little bit of bad in the world,” Gabriel observes. “But when the bad comes, the good comes too…I’ve never felt something more powerful.”
At the request of Colleen and Gabriel, the name of the church has not been released to the public. KETV did reach out to the church for comment on this story, though declined to do so.
Here’s to you, kid.