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The inspiring video of a gay teen coming out to his Catholic school to a standing ovation is going viral. Finn Stannard, a 17-year-old student at St. Ignatius school in Sydney, Australia, spoke openly at a school assembly this month about his sexual orientation. Despite the school's strong religious affiliation, his classmates and the faculty showered him with support.
"Announcing yourself to the world is pretty terrifying because, what if the world doesn't like you," Stannard said at the assembly, attended by 1,500 students and faculty members. "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."
"Life was easier living as the straight eldest son. I had spent so long behind the facade of a confident heterosexual man that I wasn't sure if I knew how to be me," Stannard added in a speech that highlighted microaggessions he'd experienced over the years like "countless rumors and unpleasant jokes" that made him think he could never be out.
LGBTQ rights have been gaining ground in Australia over the past few years, considering the people voted overwhelmingly to pass marriage equality there just about a year ago, which was one of the factors that inspired Stannard to come out, he said. Still, the reaction from his classmates was overwhelming.
"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," St. Ignatius principal Paul Hines told SBS News.
Beyond his classmates and teachers, Stannard also has solid support at home.
"The fact that Finn was supported, the fact that his message was heard, I was in tears," Stannard's mother, Megan Stannard, told SBS. "We were so proud of him, so proud of the school, and so proud of the boys. It was a truly special occasion."
\u201cThis is the moment a gay student at one of Sydney\u2019s 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\u201d— SBS News (@SBS News) 1543226400