Reflections of a Rock Lobster: A Story about Growing Up Gay, Aaron Fricke
Publisher: Alyson Books (first published in 1981)
Genre: LGBT (G), Non-Fiction, Coming of Age, Legal
Purchase At: amazon.com
Reflections of a Rock Lobster: A Story About Growing Up Gay tells the story of a young man, Aaron Fricke, who wanted to go to the high school prom with another boy but was denied at every turn. This later turned into a much-publicized court case that Aaron eventually won. The book takes place in the early eighties and is written by Aaron Fricke when he was around eighteen or nineteen. The writing is that of a teen so anyone reading this should not go into it expecting adult-style writing or dialogue. It’s not there. It’s an emotional story about someone who just wants to be accepted for who he is.
When Aaron’s story was taking place in Rhode Island, I was younger than he at the time. I faintly remember the media coverage but at that time anything “gay” was banned in my home. If something was mentioned on the news, my mother went ballistic and refused to allow my sisters and me to watch television again until the story died down. We were not allowed to speak of homosexuality. We were not allowed to have friends who were gay. The mere thought of either meant that we would be going to hell. And I assure you, there was much punishment involved if we dared question my mother’s beliefs and her bigotry.
Aaron Fricke came from a good home. He had wonderful parents and an older sister, Cheryl. But as wonderful as they were, Aaron could not come out to his parents or Cheryl. He felt alone at home and at school. Only later did Aaron meet Paul, an openly gay student. Later, he was able to find another group of students/friends who became part of his life and accepted him for who he was, a gay teen. Unfortunately, his family was still in the dark as no way would Aaron take a chance of losing their love. Eventually he had no choice. During Aaron’s senior year of high school at Cumberland High School in Rhode Island, he realized that he had to take a stand. Though not out to everyone, he was still bullied and called names by those who knew/assumed he was gay. When Aaron went to school administrators, nothing was done about the bullying. The year prior, his friend Paul had tried to get approval to take a boy to the prom and was ostracized as a result. He ended up having to leave the school and move a good distance away. Aaron was determined to pick up where Paul left off and fight for the same rights as his fellow straight students. First he had to tell his parents the truth about his sexuality. They were supportive in a sense but each still had reservations and a lack of understanding. Support came when he decided to fight for his rights at his high school.
I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I decided to download this book. I remember the early eighties well and I remember (too well) how homophobic a lot of people were back then (I mentioned my mother). Each time I felt that the writing was getting to be a bit tedious, I would take a step back and think about what Aaron Fricke did when no one else was willing to take a stand. He subjected himself to ridicule, to violence, to the lack of privacy and for what? For the same rights given to his straight schoolmates. Why shouldn’t he fight for what was right? I ended this book thinking how strong the young man had to have been to take on this huge fight. Not only did he take it on, he won it.
The book was originally published in 1981, not long after the court case was won. In the updated version (that I read) the author has added information about himself and a lot of the students and administrators mentioned in the book. Aaron is now in his early fifties (according to Google) and is living happily as an out gay man. He can forever be proud of the fact that he did take a stand and fight for what was right back when he was very young. My kudos to him. If this book helps one teen come out then Mr. Fricke has done a great service. Before I started typing this review, I checked out other reviews on Amazon. At the very top is one written by an anonymous former classmate of Aaron’s who is now living an openly gay lifestyle. This same person was one who criticized him for being gay back then.
Overall, a very interesting story written by a very brave teen. As mentioned in my opening paragraph, the writing is from a teenager and this is obvious. Keep that in mind before reading Reflections of a Rock Lobster.
You can find more information about the actual case below.