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Florida Grad Says Gay Without Using the Word in Brilliant Speech

Zander Moricz

Zander Moricz was barred from saying "gay" in his graduation speech, but he got around the prohibition in a creative manner.

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Zander Moricz, the gay Florida class president barred from saying "gay" in his graduation speech, got around the prohibition in a clever fashion.

Moricz is the first out class president at Pine View School in Osprey. His principal, Stephen Covert, had warned him against discussing his gay identity and LGBTQ+ activism while speaking against graduation in light of Florida's recently adopted "don't say gay" law, which restricts school-sponsored mention of sexual orientation and gender identity. The administration had threatened to cut him off if he did so.

However, in the Sunday night speech, Moricz, a plaintiff in a suit challenging the law. managed to get his points about being gay across without saying the word.

"I must discuss a very public part of my identity. This characteristic has probably become the first thing you think of when you think of me as a human being," he said.

"As you know, I have curly hair," he continued while taking off his graduation cap.

He went on to discuss the challenges faced by curly-haired people. "While having curly hair in Florida is difficult -- due to the humidity -- I decided to be proud of who I was and started coming to school as my authentic self," after unsuccessful attempts at straightening, he said. And he found support from teachers who discussed the topic and discovered others with curly hair.

"It's because of the love I'd drawn from this community that I came out to my family," he said. "Now I'm happy. Now I'm happy. And that is what is at stake. There are going to be so many kids with curly hair who need a community like Pine View, and they won't have one." They too will try to straighten that part of themselves.

He advised listeners to claim their power. "We must use our share of power because of all the people who didn't use it and let this happen to all of the people who couldn't," he said.

Moricz talked about the speech Monday on Good Morning America. "I knew that the threat to cut the mic was very real, so I wasn't gonna let that happen," he said. "I just had to be clever about it. But I shouldn't have had to be because I don't exist in a euphemism. I deserve to be celebrated as is."

Some school officials have expressed support for Moricz. "I don't want him to be a victim in this," Tom Edwards, the gay man who is vice chair of the school board, told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. "I want him to be celebrated for his accomplishments while being true to his identity."

Watch Moricz's speech and his GMA interview below.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.