A Sydney high school student has come out as gay to a standing ovation from classmates and teachers at an assembly at his Catholic school.
Then-17-year-old Finn Stannard chose to share his journey to accepting his sexuality with more than 1,500 people at Sydney school St. Ignatius’ College earlier this year, and his moving speech was met with applause.
“I’ve been working towards this speech for four years. In those four years, I have come to understand who I am and how to not be sorry for being myself,” he said in the speech, published by SBS News on Monday.
“Announcing yourself to the world is pretty terrifying. What if the world doesn’t like you?
“I decided that it was finally time to tell someone the truth. It wasn’t easy but I told mum that I thought I might be gay.
“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.
“A life living behind a mask is not a life anyone should live. With that in mind, my message to you all is this: surround yourself with people who let you live as your true self, and never be afraid of asking for help.”
Stannard spoke of the toll that “countless rumours and unpleasant jokes” had taken on him as he grew up, and also said hearing the word “gay” as a pejorative caused him depression and anxiety.
“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,” he said.
“Every single one of you can help, in your own way, by accepting others for exactly who they are.”
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 told SBS News his biggest reason for sharing the speech was to help “all those people who are lost”, just as he was.
“I don’t think anybody should have to go through the feeling of loss that I felt like I’d gone through,” he said.
Earlier this month, Stannard took his boyfriend to his school formal and he will start university next year.