Gabriel, a member of his church's music group who played at weekly services, was told to leave his place of worship after leaders "found out I was wearing Pride gear," the gay teen told KETV, an ABC affiliate in Omaha.
"They told me, since I'm a leader, they wouldn't want me promoting things that they're against," said the eighth-grader and Lincoln native. The coverage did not include his last name or the name of the church in order to highlight the positive news that came afterward.
Gabriel's mother, Colleen, posted about her son's experience on Facebook. "It only took a matter of hours. It got really big really fast," she said. And the reaction was "overwhelmingly positive."
"It was unreal how positive it was," recounted Colleen, who had initially feared a negative backlash and switched the story to private.
However, a flood of support came, and it wasn't just digital. The organization Drag Queen Story Hour Nebraska also posted on Facebook asking for cards of support for Gabriel.
"Let's shower Gabriel with LOVE," the September 4 post read. "Let's let Gabriel know that he is loved from far and wide. Let's let him know that it DOES get better... and that he is NOT alone. Let's flood his house with all cards and letters we can muster!"
The letters started pouring in. People of all ages, LGBTQ+ and straight, sent messages of love to Gabriel. One was from an LGBTQ+ teacher. "I am a teacher and I have students who love and look up to me," the message read. "Sometimes it's kids like you that need to teach grownups a thing or two."
Frank Roark, the owner of Goldenrod Printing in Lincoln, even created 500 cards printed with "Love is never wrong," a quote from Melissa Etheridge, and gave them away for free to those who wanted to send Gabriel a letter.
"We look out for our community that needs looked out for the most," Roark said. "As a human, I think that's our job."
Colleen stopped by the printing shop to thank Roark for his kindness. "You took what could have been one of the worst experiences and turned them into one of the best experiences," she said.
The experience has also left its mark on Gabriel. "There's a lot of good in the world and there's a little bit of bad in the world," he said. "But when the bad comes, the good comes too."
Those who wish to send Gabriel a letter of support can do so through the below address, which is care of OutNebraska, an LGBTQ+ organization in the Cornhusker State:
211 N 14th St
Lincoln, NE 68508