A high school valedictorian barred from delivering his graduation speech because his school learned he was going to come out as gay during the address finally got the opportunity to share his story this week.
Evan Young, 18, initially planned to come out to his peers as gay during his May 16 graduation speech at Twin Peaks Charter Academy High School in Longmont, Colorado. However, after administrators learned of his intentions, not only was he barred from delivering his address -- and not recognized as valedictorian at the ceremony -- but administrators outed Young to his parents.
Young previously stated that he wanted to come out during his graduation address in order to show his peers that they "should not be ashamed of who they are."
This week, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) group Out Boulder extended the opportunity for Young to deliver his graduation address to hundreds of people during a fundraising event in the backyard of a private residence. Democracy Now! captured Young's speech -- the same speech originally intended for his peers -- on video for an exclusive broadcast.
"That's my biggest secret of all -- I'm gay," Young told the audience. "I understand this might be offensive to some people, but it's who I am. And whether you've always suspected this or this is a total shock to you, now you know. When I was writing this speech I was endlessly debating within myself whether I should reveal this on account of how divisive an issue this is and how gay people tend to be stereotyped... [but] if there's one thing I learned at this school it's that we can still be friends even if we profoundly disagree with each other."
Young concluded his speech by encouraging people in the audience to "hug someone" who may be have contrasting views from themselves despite their differences. Check out the rest of Young's speech above.