Texas: High school salutatorian comes out in graduation speech to friends, family

Texas: High school salutatorian comes out in graduation speech to friends, family

From KTEM.com:

During his senior year, Belton High School’s 2013 Salutatorian Mitch Anderson had a GPA of 112.2, and scored a perfect PSAT score in his junior year. He said when he found out he would be the senior class salutatorian, he immediately began thinking about what he would say to his graduating class. He decided to “come out” at his high school graduation in his salutatorian speech, a decision Anderson said “felt natural.”

The ceremony took place at the Bell County Expo, in Belton on Thursday, with the largest graduating class in Belton High School’s history. But Anderson said he was intimidated by the crowd.

“Once I got up there and stared talking, I felt completely fine,” Anderson said of Thursday’s night speech at the Bell County Expo. He said he told no one of his plans to come out during the speech.

In his speech, Anderson addressed his struggles with coming out and finding acceptance with who he is.

“I myself am guilty of self-doubt, relying on others to give my life definition,” he said in his speech, “But that time has passed, and I feel the moment has arrived for me to be publicly true to my personal identity. So now, I can say, I’m gay. It is both a significant portion of who I am and an inconsequential aspect. It’s as natural and effortless to me as breathing. I couldn’t change myself even if I wanted, and believe me, I have.

He said no one, not even his parents and close friends, knew he was gay prior to the speech. So far, the teenager said reaction has been positive.

“I’ve received so much support and kindness,” Anderson said of fellow classmates and others. “Knowing that [people] found the speech inspirational has been really amazing.”

As for what inspired him to come out, Anderson said pop culture icons such as Madonna, Lady Gaga and Star Trek star Zacharay Quinto all played a role in helping him feel confident about his identity.

“They are all about standing up for who you are, being different, being unique,” he said. “They’ve gotten strong positive reception for their [actions].”

Anderson said he was aware of some negative reaction directed towards the speech, mostly posted on various community Internet message boards. Some expressed that it was wrong for the student to use the opportunity to make the speech about himself. Anderson noted that Valedictorian Jacob deKeratry also spoke about his own personal experiences as a teenager.

“I didn’t make the speech all about me,” he said. “It’s about acceptance, about celebrating everyone.”

Read more at KTEM.com