New Jersey’s Jacob Rudolph only came out to his parents a few months ago, yet word has spread like wildfire thanks to a video posted online by his father.
“His exact words to me were, ‘Dad, I’m not straight,’ and my response was, ‘And?'” Jonathan Rudolph told NJ.com.
According to his father, Jacob is still exploring his identity and and hasn’t determined that he’s exclusively attracted to one sex or the other. He prefers to describe himself as”LGBT” in a show of solidarity.
“The more leaders who pop up in the LGBT community, the more it inspires others,” Jacob said. “It just becomes a whole domino effect.”
Jacob’s father helped him edit his big speech before delivering it last Friday, while his good friend Scott Hester-Johnson — whom Jacob calls his “gay consigliere” — helped him to find the courage to make it. Still, Jacob had his reservations.
Only a few close friends knew he was LGBT and he was afraid of losing those who didn’t. To help him with this decision, Jacob made a list of pros and cons, which he later showed to his teacher, Jennifer Frantz.
“She pointed out that everything on the cons side was hypothetical. Almost everything on the pros side — the relief, the acceptance of most of my peers — was going to happen,” Jacob said.
His speech before hundreds of students, faculty and staff ultimately elicited a standing ovation and the video of his coming-out has attracted thousands of views.
The Parsippany High School senior said he’s fortunate to be in an environment so supportive of LGBT youth and “blessed to have some of the best parents I could ask for.”
But he recognizes that the fight for equality is far from over and that it is important for LGBT individuals to not only speak of themselves with pride, but to also act as leaders.
“I think most people will vote for gay marriage, if they themselves are LGBT, or if they know someone who is,” he said. “So we should be vocal about who we are.”