Gay leaders/celebs return to their high schools to support gay teens
Oct 14, 2010 at 08:17 AM
NEW YORK (October 14, 2010) – In the midst of a national wave of anti-gay bullying and violence, a powerful short video premiering today reveals how one person can change a school – and the lives of hundreds of gay and straight youth – in just one day.
Academy Award-winning screenwriter Lance Black (“Milk”) is one of the many gay leaders participating in The Homecoming Project, Live Out Loud’s grassroots initiative that brings successful gay adults back to their high schools to share their stories, lessons, and hope with today’s students.
Black’s extraordinary visit to North Salinas High School in California’s conservative Central Valley is captured in a new short video.
Speaking in a gym packed with more than 1000 students, Black speaks openly of his conservative upbringing, the despair of being closeted, and his hope for happiness beyond high school.
His moving speech prompts cheering ovations, tears throughout the audience, and one student revealing that he had just come out to his parents.
“We can’t hate people that don’t love us. We have to love them back until they love us back,” the student tells the assembly.
Even more important, Black’s visit results in the school starting its first Gay-Straight Alliance.
“This day changed North High,” said Cheryl Darling, Principal’s Secretary.
“When I first heard about this Homecoming Project, I had no idea it would be so revelatory,” said Black. “I had no idea I would see such great change.”
Since its inception, The Homecoming Project has brought a diverse mix of gay adults, including former GLAAD president Neil Giuliano, author Eric Marcus, and media strategist Cathy Renna, back to their high schools.
Live Out Loud’s executive director Leo Preziosi, Jr. said The Homecoming Project provides gay adults and schools with a powerful tool to create positive change in the lives of both gay and straight youth.
“These recent tragedies are a wake-up call for the LGBT community that we each must make the time to play an active role in the lives of today’s youth,” said Preziosi. “We must share our stories, offer support and encouragement and remind them of their extraordinary potential. “
The Homecoming Project builds on the mission of LIVE OUT LOUD, a ten-year old, non-profit organization that connects LGBT youth with role models and leaders in the LGBT community. Last year, Live Out Loud hosted more than 80 panels, workshops, and lectures in schools, colleges, and youth centers throughout the New York tri-state area. For more information, visit www.liveoutloud.info.