Post submitted by Jill Nguyen, HRC Diversity Intern


Last Thursday, Belton High School ‘s Class of 2013 Salutatorian Mitch Anderson came out as gay in an emotional graduation speech in front of parents, teachers, administrators, and the biggest class in the history of Belton High. It was the first time he had ever made a statement about his sexual orientation, and about being bullied.

“I myself am guilty of self-doubt, relying on others to give my life definition. But that time has passed, and I feel the moment has arrived for me to be publically true to my personal identity. So now, I can say, I’m gay. It is both a significant portion of who I am and an inconsequential aspect. It’s as natural and effortless to me as breathing. I couldn’t change myself even if I wanted, and believe me, I have.”

“I have been bullied a lot. I’ve been called unspeakable things and relegated to a place of lower class. I have been made to feel worthless, unneeded, a blight on the world… And after I had realized I was gay, I hated myself. I wished and prayed endlessly that I could just go on with life normally, that I could be like everyone else. Being different felt like a curse, an unfair sentence to the life of an outcast.”

In an interview, Anderson said that no one -- not even family members or friends -- knew he was gay before he delivered the speech, and knew about his intention to come out, but nonetheless said reaction has been positive. His full speech can be found here.

Coming out is an important and difficult process for many LGBT youth. Check out HRC’s Coming Out Center for resources, survey reports and stories by visiting

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