Steve Ralls

One Year Later, A Mother Returns to Vienna

Filed By Steve Ralls | October 16, 2008 8:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics
Tags: Aeryn Gilleran, Ithaca Times, Kathy Gilleran, PFLAG, Vienna

In the months since we first reportedKathy.jpgon Kathy Gilleran's search for her son, Aeryn, many readers have asked us to keep you updated on the story... and there has been an outpouring of support, from Kathy's hometown PFLAG chapter to New York Assemblyman Danny O'Donnell, for Kathy and her family. We've stayed in constant contact with her, and now the Ithaca Times became the latest press outlet to report on Aeryn's disappearance.

In just a few weeks, Kathy will return to Vienna on the one-year anniversary of the last time Aeryn was heard from. And because, in part, of the media attention that PFLAG has brought to the case, Austrian officials have agreed to meet with her, and the consulate in Vienna has stepped up, reached out to Kathy and finally showed some interest in helping to solve this case.

"That Aeryn was gay is something Gilleran thinks played a role in the way police handled the case," the Times reports. "He'd had a run-in with police in 2003 when he was taken into custody over a subway ticket miscommunication, and filed a complaint with Amnesty International regarding his treatment by officers. According to an Associated Press report, the deposition Aeryn filed regarding the incident stated comments were made about his being gay."

"Gilleran has had contact with several international agencies for the protection of gays and lesbians, and one told her Vienna 'was receptive of homosexuals, and didn't see any wrongdoing by police in cases involving gay people. They felt gay people would not be afraid to talk to police,'" the paper recounts.

"But, two weeks prior to Aeryn's disappearance, the Vienna police felt the need to start a gay and lesbian task force to protect gay and lesbian officers," she said. "If nothing was wrong, why would there be a need to protect them?"

And now, Kathy is preparing to visit the site of Aeryn's disappearance and continue her quest for answers.

"Gilleran is headed back to Vienna in the coming weeks - leaving Oct. 26 and returning Nov. 2 - to mark the one-year anniversary of her son's disappearance," the Times notes. "She's going by herself because she's afraid of how she might handle herself if friends -who've offered to go with her - try to comfort her."

"Because I have to, because my son is there somewhere, because I have to be there," Gilleran said tearfully when asked why she was going back. "I want to make sure they know I'm not going away. Somehow they made my son disappear. I'm not going away quietly."

And as long as Kathy continues her search, we will continue to stand, and fight, alongside her, too.

To read the complete Ithaca Times report, click here.

Photo by Rachel Philipson

Originally posted at the PFLAG National blog.

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I'm not surprised - Austria is headed back towards the right.

Good luck to her.

Scott Kaiser Scott Kaiser | October 16, 2008 11:27 PM

"I want to make sure they know I'm not going away. Somehow they made my son disappear. I'm not going away quietly."

A powerful reminder of a mother's love for her son.

Thanks for the update.

Thanks for keeping us updates, Steve. My prayers are with her.