An Australian student announced he is gay during a speech at his Catholic school, and his words were met with a standing ovation.
During his keynote address, 17-year-old Finn Stannard, a student at St. Ignatius College in Riverview, Australia, revealed his sexual orientation to a crowd of over 1,500 fellow students and faculty, and the response he received was overwhelmingly positive.
In a video of the speech released exclusively to SBS News, Stannard said:
“Announcing yourself to the world is pretty terrifying. What if the world doesn’t like you?”
This is the moment a gay student at one of Sydney’s most elite Catholic schools - that boasts former prime minister Tony Abbott and Barnaby Joyce among its alumni - stood up in a packed assembly hall of more than 1,500 students and came out pic.twitter.com/NyZxffFBmr— SBS News (@SBSNews) November 26, 2018
Stannard said he was able to summon the courage to make the announcement after Australia voted “yes” in favor of same-sex marriage last year during a controversial plebiscite, according to Newshub.
“When the results of the plebiscite came out, that’s when I knew that I could do the speech and it would be alright in the end.”
Many commenters on Twitter were supportive of Stannard’s announcement:
I love these emerging generations. Our planet will be in good hands when we push aside these middle-aged WS male luddites who want to live in the 50’s— Debora Elliott (@DeboraMorf) November 26, 2018
Congrats Finn, that was brave. I think your words and the support from the school will ripple outwards and touch many kids lives in a positive way. Best wishes for an awesome future.— Lomandra (@Lomandra) November 26, 2018
Finn Stannard. Say His name. 👏👏👏👏— J.J. KALE (@JJKALE2) November 26, 2018
I have a tear in my eye. What a beautiful moment— Linda Margaret 🇦🇺 (@lindamargaret54) November 26, 2018
Stannard, who recently completed his HSC, wrote the speech with a younger version of himself in mind. His intention, as he told SBS News, was to help others who might be struggling with similar feelings.
“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.”
Though some people online weren’t as positive, commenters were more than happy to educate them:
What an impressive young man.— Lisa (@saysLiss) November 26, 2018
why is he impressive? because he disclosed his sexual orientation to the entire world?— ⌲ i luh Whitney❣️ (@InfiniteILLest) November 26, 2018
Yeh exactly. Are you dim?— tk (@KeenanTodd) November 26, 2018
Why is this news?— Drexel King (@drexelrking) November 26, 2018
Also, does anyone else get props for giving a speech about themselves besides the LGBTQ community?
It is news because it might just help little pig's pizzles like you understand the effect your foul beliefs have when inflicted on those struggling with life's real issues. #auspol— Lord Rivers of Beer (@MarekRivers) November 27, 2018
In his speech, Stannard said:
“Being different, whether it’s being gay or being part of another minority group, can be challenging but it does not have to be scary and isolating. Every single one of you can help, in your own way, by accepting others for exactly who they are.”
Paul Hine, the principal of St. Ignatius, called Stannard’s speech a “watershed” moment for the school.
Twitter user Steve Richardson didn’t think much of Stannard’s choice to come out at the assembly, but Samantha tried to put it in perspective for him:
In other news witness some kid tell an entire assembly hes gay and be cheered like he just won an award when instead of the fact he just told ppl his sexual preference like a vegan telling you how much he cant eat meat and acting like it really matters that others ppl know that.— Steve Richardson (@gokurichardson) November 26, 2018
Except vegans aren’t thrown out of home and disowned by their family for being who they are, beaten up by groups of people for being vegan or told that being vegan is a shameful abomination.— Samantha (@SamanthaJane82) November 26, 2018
This exchange really breaks down why Stannard’s decision to come out during a school-wide event was both courageous and important:
why is it soo important for him to come out to a whole bunch of random people I don’t get— MeIAmKhary (@kharyluk) November 26, 2018
It’s important, because of context. Ultra-conservatives in AU have been pushing for religious schools to expel LGBT+ students & fire LGBT+ teachers.— cannboys (@cannboys) November 27, 2018
That he stood up in front of one of these schools, and got this reaction, represents a rejection of that conservative ideaology.
Kudos to Finn for showing such bravery.