Brandon Elizares

PFLAG El Paso will host a memorial service Friday night for Brandon Elizares, the gay 16-year-old who committed suicide June 2 after his mother said he was bullied at school for two years because of his sexual orientation. The local PFLAG chapter has also set up an anti-bullying fund in Brandon’s memory.

Daniel Rollings, president of PFLAG El Paso, told Instant Tea that news of Brandon’s death — which began to trickle in just before last weekend’s gay Pride festivities in the Sun City — has hit the local LGBT community hard.

“Those of us who knew what had just happened, it definitely took a toll on us,” Rollings said. “It brought a sense of reality to the LGBT community.”

Rollings said he’s been involved in all of the controversies the El Paso LGBT community has faced in recent years, from the gay kiss fiasco at Chico’s Tacos to hate crimes issues to the fight against Pastor Tom Brown over domestic partner benefits.

“This truly is the saddest thing we’ve had to endure,” Rollings said.

Brandon’s mother, Zachalyn Elizares, said the family is also trying to raise money so that Brandon’s remains can be flown to his native Hawaii for a viewing and service. Brandon was born and raised in Hawaii, where much of his family still lives, before moving to El Paso with his mother about eight years ago.

Zachalyn Elizares said Brandon struggled with depression since coming out as gay two years ago. She said he left a suicide note saying “he felt like he had to hide under his skin, and it made him feel terrible [that] other people weren’t comfortable around him.”

“‘My name is Brandon Joseph Elizares, and I couldn’t make it,'” Zachalyn Elizares said, quoting from the note. “He says he wasn’t strong enough, he says he tried to protect himself and he couldn’t do it. He tried to speak up for himself … but it wasn’t enough, and he felt no connection left to this world.”

The PFLAG memorial service will be at 7 p.m. Friday at the Holy Spirit Episcopal Church, 10500 Kenworthy St. in El Paso.

Donations can be made to the PFLAG anti-bullying fund at the El Paso Area Teachers Federal Credit Union — Acct.: 168783. Checks containing the account number can be mailed to the El Paso Area Teachers Federal Credit Union, 12020 Rojas Drive, El Paso, TX 79936.

Below are photos from a memorial held by Brandon’s family and friends at a local park last weekend.