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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 25 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 43
The 'Rock Lobster' returns - Gay teen's pioneering 1981 anti-bullying memoir is back in print
Arts & Entertainment
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The 'Rock Lobster' returns - Gay teen's pioneering 1981 anti-bullying memoir is back in print

REFLECTIONS OF A ROCK LOBSTER AARON FRICKE (CreateSpace; 154 pp)

Aaron Fricke, the Rhode Island native who made international headlines in 1980 when he battled in court and won the right to bring his boyfriend to his high-school prom, has published an expanded edition of his award-winning memoir Reflections of a Rock Lobster: A Story About Growing Up Gay. It is now available through Amazon by digital download or as a paperback.

This expanded edition, revised personally by the author, features 36 pages of new material, photos, and illustrations. The book recounts Fricke's agonizing coming of age as a Gay youth in 1970s suburban Rhode Island, and the bullying and physical violence he faced. In this moving account, Fricke explains the reason for his controversial - and groundbreaking - decision to invite his friend Paul Guilbert to the prom.

Reflections has been reprinted 10 times and sold more than 100,000 copies. Fricke republishes his 1981 book with a renewed mission: 'I hope to introduce the story to a whole new generation of Gay and straight kids because it illustrates the value and importance of standing up to bullying.'

Both his prom struggle and book made Aaron Fricke a hero in the LGBT rights movement, resulting in fan letters from around the globe and national media attention. Over the span of three decades, Fricke's TV appearances have ranged from Donahue in 1980 to Fox News in 2013. In each segment, Fricke has spoken bravely and eloquently about the struggles of LGBT teens.

STAGE ADAPTATION
A play about Fricke's life and historic prom date, also titled Reflections of a Rock Lobster, was staged in 2012 and 2013 by the Boston Children's Theatre. BCT became the first children's repertory theater in the country to tackle Gay rights issues with this production. Fricke acted as a show consultant, working with the playwright, BCT artistic director Burgess Clark. There are plans to remount the show in 2014. 'Young people approached me after every performance, asking when I would do an update to the book. So I decided now is the time,' said Fricke.

The author has chosen to donate five percent of the new edition's royalties to GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network). Fricke and GLSEN share a controversial history: In 1995, Reflections of a Rock Lobster became the first in a list of books recommended by GLSEN for teen reading. In 2009, former GLSEN executive director Kevin Jennings, a nominee for Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools at the U.S. Department of Education, was targeted for endorsing Fricke's book. Conservatives protested a passage in Fricke's book that recounted adolescent sexuality. Fricke has made the difficult decision to remove that passage from the new edition and honors GLSEN's important work with this donation.

A native of Cumberland, Rhode Island, Fricke currently lives in San Francisco and continues to reach out to Gay and straight high-school students as a volunteer for the San Francisco LGBT Community Center's Speaker's Bureau. He is also co-author of the 1991 memoir Sudden Strangers: The Story of a Gay Son and His Father.

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