A 17-year-old Catholic student decided to come out as gay during a speech to the whole school and received a shower of support.
Finn Stannard, a student at St. Ignatius school in Sydney, Australia, spoke openly about his sexual orientation. The school’s strong Catholic religious affiliation was no deterrent to the overwhelming amount of support Finn received after his speech.
As the 17-year-old Finn stood before his school during his keynote speech he started to share:
“Announcing yourself to the world is pretty terrifying because what if the world doesn’t like you. I decided that it was finally time to tell someone the truth. It wasn’t easy, but I told my mum that I thought I might be gay.”
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Attended by over 1,500 student and faculty members, Finn continued:
“Life was easier living as the straight eldest son. I had spent so long behind the facade of a confident heterosexual man that I wasn’t sure if I knew how to be me.”
After the conclusion of his inspiring speech, the entire school stood up in unison for a standing ovation. Finn’s mother, Megan Stannard was relieved at the response her son received and said:
“The fact that Finn was supported, the fact that his message was heard, I was in tears. We were so proud of him, so proud of the school, and so proud of the boys. It was a truly special occasion.”
In Australia, LGBTQ rights made headway over the last few years, with an overwhelming vote to pass marriage equality just last year. It gave Finn the courage to open up and tell everyone how he felt.
The principal at St. Ignatius showed his acceptance and support as he said:
“I’m not sure anyone chooses their sexuality; that’s who they are, and therefore we need to be open to that and to accept it and to make sure we live in communities of inclusion – and with that will come diversity.”
With full support from his family and friends, Finn feels confident to be himself and even took his boyfriend to a formal school dance. Grateful to be in accepting surroundings as gay community members are often bullied, especially in school.
In August, 9-year-old Jamel Myles got bullied at school after he came out to his classmates at Joe Shoemaker Elementary School after starting fourth grade.
He told his mother, Leia Pierce, during the summer and with love and support from her he wanted to share as Leia said:
"He went to school and said he was gonna tell people he's gay because he's proud of himself."
Four days later Leia found her son dead in their Denver home. Jamel told his older sister that children at school told him to kill himself.
Devastated by the loss of her son just because he was different than everyone else is something Leia hopes for no parent. She wants to spread awareness about the effects of bullying and added:
"We should have accountability for bullying. I think the child should because the child knows it's wrong. The child wouldn't want someone to do it to them. I think the parent should be held (accountable) because obviously the parents are either teaching them to be like that, or they're treating them like that."
With Finn and Jamel the difference in support and acceptance and the consequences they can have is evident. But with more pioneers in the LGBTQ community stepping forward certain prejudices can hopefully become a thing of the past.
Recently Jared Polis became the first openly gay Democrat to be elected as governor in the history of the United States and became governor of Colorado on November 6, 2018.
Jared took the time to show gratitude towards the LGBTQ pioneers before him, for their hard work and dedication and expressed his pride in his state and it's people. Voters looked passed his sexual orientation and saw what he stood for.