A high school valedictorian came out during her speech at graduation, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd.
Roaring Fork High School graduate Emily Bruell had a very unique speech prepared for graduation, which included signs and props. When she revealed the sign with the word “gay” the whole crowd stood to their feet and applauded the young girl. Emily, a straight-A student who is headed for Bates College in Maine in the fall, took the opportunity to shut down the labels that are placed on people who are different, including those in the LGBTQ community.
“We often hear about high school as a blank page, a time you can start over,” she said, according to the Post Independent. “But I came to this school with a label I’d brought from middle school, a sort of ‘brand name,’ if you will. Emily Bruell. It’s kind of a quiet brand, the kind of brand who takes a ton of AP classes, and who wins spelling bees, not dance competitions. The selling point of the brand is that it’s smart, although users may experience side effects such as over quietness, spending too much time stressing over tests and grades, and behavior frequently classified as nerdlike.”
“Knowing the power of these labels terrified me, especially because in my time away from Roaring Fork I realized something about myself, something more than what fit under ‘smart girl.’ I realized that I am gay. And I was terrified of the stigma that that label held.
And the easiest thing to do when you are scared of something is to ignore it, to just keep on acting the way you did before you got scared. So I continued being brand ‘smart girl.’ I continued working to fill that identity, and to make sure that nothing contrary to it slipped out. But… now it’s out. In fact, we can make it more official.”
“The label of ‘gay girl’ is irrevocably revealed. And standing here, still in one piece, I’m realizing that while the label is accurate, it’s also not everything,” Bruell continued. “I’m not just gay. I’m not just smart. No one is. No label is big enough to hold an entire person. But we still keep trying.”
Bruell wrote the speech on her own, and didn’t even show it to her parents. However, she did run it by Principal Drew Adams, who approved the speech and called it “perfect.”
— Randy Essex (@randyessex) June 3, 2015
“Her speech was perfect,” said Adams, according to the Associated Press. “To me, it was the right thing to do.”
Adams said he was hoping that the community would accept her speech as something good, rather than ridicule her for her sexuality.
“I didn’t anticipate a standing ovation, but I did anticipate applause,” he said. “I think Carbondale and Roaring Fork High School have build a supportive community for all students to feel safe. I don’t think that’s the case everywhere in America.”
[Photo via Shutterstock]