Gay Teen Comes Out During Catholic School Assembly to Standing Ovation
“When I said it, I just felt this energy pass through me and I felt – that was the first time I’d really been proud of who I was.”
Homophobia may run rampant in religious institutions, but one gay teenager found a wealth of support at his Catholic school. 17-year-old Finn Stannard received a standing ovation when he came out during an assembly at his elite high school St. Ignatius in Sydney, Australia.
“Announcing yourself to the world is pretty terrifying because, what if the world doesn’t like you,” Stannard asked the 1,500 students and faculty members gathered at the assembly. “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.”
“When I said it, I just felt this energy pass through me and I felt – that was the first time I’d really been proud of who I was,” Stannard told SBS News. “I could announce it to all these people who were before me… Life was easier living as the straight eldest son. I had spent so long behind the façade of a confident, heterosexual man that I wasn’t sure if I knew how to be me. I think that’s really the biggest reason I made sure I got up onto that stage and gave the speech. I don’t think anybody should have to go through the feeling of loss that I felt like I’d gone through.”
“The fact that Finn was supported, the fact that his message was heard, I was in tears,” said Stannard’s mother, Megan. “We were so proud of him, so proud of the school, and so proud of the boys. It was a truly special occasion.”
SBS reported that the school’s principal, Paul Hines, called Stannard’s speech a “watershed” moment for St. Ignatius. “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.”
Stannard’s speech comes almost exactly a year after Australia legalized same sex marriage — the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Act was passed by the Australian Parliament on December 7, 2017 and went into effect on December 9.