Aaron Fricke is a gay rights activist. He was born January 25, 1962 in Providence, Rhode Island. He is best known for the pivotal case in which he successfully sued his high school for not allowing him to bring his boyfriend to the senior prom at Cumberland High School in Cumberland, Rhode Island.
Shortly after he came out in 1980, Aaron began seeing another male student, Paul Guilbert, and the two fell in love. Aaron decided to bring Paul as his date to the prom:
- "The simple thing would have been to go to the senior prom with a girl. But that would have been a lie -- a lie to myself, to the girl, and to all the other students."
When the high school informed Aaron he could not bring Paul to the prom, he filed suit in U.S. District court. The presiding judge, Raymond J. Pettine, ruled in Aaron's favor, ordering the school to not only allow Aaron and Paul to attend as a couple but also to provide enough security to ensure their safety. The case received considerable media attention, and news camera crews filmed and interviewed the couple at the dance.
Aaron later wrote of his experience in a book, Reflections of a Rock Lobster: A story about growing up gay. He later collaborated with his father, Walter Fricke, on a book about their relationship and of the elder Fricke's coming to terms with his son's homosexuality. That book, Sudden Strangers: The Story of a Gay Son and His Father, was published shortly after Walter Fricke's death from cancer in 1989.
The suit brought by Aaron Fricke against his school is considered a major milestone in the history of gay rights. Each year cases of young same-sex couples being discriminated against by their schools happen around the world, and when these cases are brought to court, the suit first brought by Aaron Fricke and Paul Guilbert is invariably cited by the plaintiff's counsel.
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