Watch: Gay Youth's Friends Shunned Him, but the Community Gave Him a Birthday Bash

Saturday September 4, 2021
Originally published on September 1, 2021

The community showed up in force to wish Brody Neville a happy birthday
The community showed up in force to wish Brody Neville a happy birthday  (Source:Screeshot/CBCen)

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and in this case it was all too heartwarmingly true.

After Brody Neville, of Calgary, Canada, came out as gay at the age of 11 this past spring, he quickly lost almost all of his friends. The boy was facing a lonely birthday when his town rallied to his side for a Pride week bash in a local park, the CBC reports.

Brody's mother, Leah O'Donnell, put things in motion with with a Facebook post in which she recounted the way in which the brave youngster had suffered the loss of his friends as soon as he came out.

"While talking to him about his birthday and what he would like to do, he is feeling dejected because he only has two friends, both of which are girls," O'Donnell posted.

"One of the girl's fathers is against anything LGBTQ therefore does not allow her to hang out very often, the other girl we cannot get ahold of."

The tearful youth told his mother that "nobody likes me anymore now that they know I'm gay," and fretted that his birthday was going to be a miserable occasion.

O'Donnell was determined not to let that happen, so she announced plans for a barbecue at a local park, issuing a general invitation to anyone from the community that might like to show up and bring some cheer to Brody's 12th birthday.

O'Donnell told the CBC she was just looking to "see if some of my friends can come out and support him." The town took it from there: The crowd that showed up to the Aug. 28 event to show their support was the best kind of birthday surprise, the CBC reported.

"Dozens of friends, family, strangers — and yes, some drag performers strutting to 'Born This Way' — filled the park" where the birthday bash took place.

The turnout was so big, and the secret so well kept, that Brody "initially thought it was an unusually large crowd waiting for the ice cream truck," the article recounted. "When he realized he was the guest of honor, he wrapped his mom into a giant hug."

Addressing the park full of well wishers, the excited youth exclaimed: "This is the best birthday ever!"

Drag performer Avanna Kedvra marveled at Brody's courage, telling the CBC, "it's outrageously amazing that this little kid, even with all this adversity, can still be out here and feeling joy."

Commenting on the joyous and supportive crowd, local resident Jessica Tailfeathers said that the occasion "brought my faith back in humanity during such a tumultuous time in society."

Watch the CBC news clip below.