When a boy in Canada tearfully told his mother he had no one to invite to his birthday party because all his friends had abandoned him when he recently came out as gay, the protective mamma sprang into action.
Leah O'Donnell told CBC News that rather than let her son, Brody Neville, think he was without friends, she invited the community to help celebrate his birthday with a surprise party and barbecue at a local park. And the community responded with a crowd of new friends and well-wishers.
"Are all these people here for the ice cream truck?" the birthday boy told the CBC. "That is literally the first thought I had."
"I was asking him what he wanted to do for his birthday, and he was in tears," O'Donnell said. "And he said that since he came out as gay, he lost all of his friends so he didn't even have people that could come."
Rather than let the boy think he was alone and friendless, she decided to post an invitation to the community via Facebook.
"As some of you know, he came out as gay this Spring and since then he has lost a good deal of friends, both at school and from our community," O'Donnell wrote in the post.
She went on to note "he only has two friends, both of which are girls." They couldn't reach one of the girls and O'Donnell said the father of the other "is against anything LGBTQ+" so his daughter was not allowed to attend.
"I am hoping that some of our village might be able to swing by to offer birthday wishes as well as support for my sweet little guy," O'Donnell continued. "I know he could really use the boost."
And the community responded, as several dozen folks joined O'Donnell in wishing her son a very happy birthday, bringing with them both presents and emotional support. The crowd included family and friends, but also complete strangers and even a few drag queens.
"It's kind of ridiculous that in 2021 a 12-year-old can't be who they are," drag queen Avanna Kedavra told the CBC, commenting about how Neville lost friends just "for being authentically" himself.
Following the party, O'Donnell took to Facebook again to thank everyone who attended and helped make a sad boy happy again.
"I am still overwhelmed by the response from the village and I know that this is a day that our family will never forget. Thank you all so very much!"
"Thank you everybody for this, this is the best day of my life," Neville told the attendees.