Meet Bobbie. Born in 1958 Robert Douglas Kovar (Bobbie) was what most of us would consider an average little boy. He grew up in a middle-class household in Calgary, Alberta, with two loving parents and his siblings. Life for Bobbie was GOOD. It was “normal”.
Then one morning six-year-old Bobbie went into his baby sister Susan’s room to wake her up. But Susan would not wake up, sadly she had passed away in the night from SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
Not wanting to cause their son further trauma, Bobbie’s parents decided that it was best he not attend Susan’s funeral and so they left him in the care of a trusted friend and neighbor.
The afternoon of the funeral, that neighbor sexually assaulted Bobbie. The neighbor then went on to sexually assault Bobbie and his 3yr old little brother for years to come.
Two major traumatic events in the life of a six-year-old child were devastating, and though everyone tried to carry on with life, the impacts from this time would impact Bobbie forever. Although there were moments of normalcy and glimmers of a happy little boy, the day-to-day struggle for Bobbie became harder and harder.
He didn’t “fit” in the world. And no words of love or compassion were enough to give him reassurance otherwise. He was different. He FELT different, and he did not feel like a “he”.
At the age of fifteen Bobbie was arrested for the first time and charged with solicitation, a term that his mother (during the 1960’s) could hardly comprehend.
With today’s education we would refer to Bobbie as transgender, but in the 60’s and 70’s there were other cruel names he was commonly referred to as. Unfortunately, even today when we hear those words they cut people to the quick.
And so it began … running away turned into couch surfing, which turned into sleeping in the streets. Not being able to sleep turned into addictions, too many to count and too few to ease his pain. This turned into arrests, eventually creating an endless and vicious cycle, riddled with mental illness that was un-diagnosable in the 60's and 70's eras.
Calls home were infrequent, and months would go by with his parents worrying and worrying. And then one ordinary day, the call came. It wasn’t Bobbie on the other end of the phone. It was a Montreal police officer asking, “Do you have a son by the name of Robert Kovar?”. “Yes” his mother replied, thinking he was in jail again. He wasn’t.
Bobbie had been murdered at the age of 29, in his Montreal apartment for being transgender.
The officer apologized that it had taken over 2 MONTHS to find Bobbie’s next of kin. He had no identification due to his transient lifestyle, and so he had been laid to rest in an unmarked grave in Montreal, Canada. Buried hundreds of miles away from those who love him. Those who couldn’t save him – who couldn’t save him from himself in many cases.
It was Bobbie who inspired Baby it’s Cold Outside’s (BCO’s) founder Pamela Morgan to start the charity in 2004. You see, Bobbie wasn’t just someone she read about in the news, he was her big brother.
Outside of his struggles in life, Bobbie was still an amazing person who Pamela remembers fondly for his love of cooking and his great sense of humor. His clam chowder was one of the all-time favorites of his family, and his little sister would beg and plead for him to make it when he found himself back home for a spell.
Pamela remembers, “Bobbie was funny – I mean really, REALLY funny, and he could tell a great tall tale. He looked very similar to David Bowie, and it was common for others to remark on the resemblance. Which is to say that Bobbie was STRIKINGLY attractive.”
While you may not have someone with a story exactly like Bobbie’s in your own family, odds are that you, someone in your family, or one of your close friends will be touched by sexual abuse, discrimination, addiction, homelessness, or mental health issues at some point in their lives.
Around the world June is know as PRIDE month, a time to celebrate the LBGTQ2S community, how far we have come over the years regarding acceptance and inclusion, and to acknowledge the work that is yet to be done.
At BCO we are grateful to each one of you, our followers, and supporters who allow us to continue to work in honor of Bobbie and so many others like him. We hope you will join us in celebrating diversity, acting with kindness, and giving a hand up to others in need when you can.
If Bobbie was with us today, he would be the life of the party, and celebrating right along with us!
To find out how you can support BCO or let us know how we can best support YOU, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
We are a charitable organization based in Alberta, Canada. We are devoted to helping the homeless through various fundraising events, clothing and essentials drives, and our eventual goal is transitional housing.