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LGBT Student Comes Out at Par High: 'I Am What I Am'

High school senior named 'class actor' admits he's been acting for a long time.

As the equality march moves forward across the United States, a person deciding to come out as gay or lesbian is not news the way it was 10 or 20 years ago. It is, however, eye-opening when such a revelation is made by a high school student in front of her or his classmates.

That's exactly what happened at Parsippany High School this week, according to NJ.com.

With the support of his family, a teacher and a few close friends, Jacob Rudolph, an 18-year-old senior, put aside his fears of discrimination and harassment and made a speech in front of 300 of his fellow students after he was proclaimed "class actor." And his father, Jonathan, was so proud of his son's courage that he put a video of the speech on YouTube.

An excerpt from the speech quotes Harvey Fierstein's award-winning musical "La Cage aux Folles:"

I've been in a few plays and musicals, but more importantly, I've been acting every single day of my life. You see, I've been acting as someone I'm not. Most of you see me every day. You see me acting the part of 'straight' Jacob, when I am in fact LGBT.
Unlike millions of other LGBT teens who have had to act every day to avoid verbal harassment and physical violence, I'm not going to do it anymore. It's time to end the hate in our society and accept the people for who they are regardless of their sex, race, orientation or whatever else may be holding back love and friendship. So take me, leave me or move me out of the way. Because I am what I am, and that's how I'm going to act from now on.

In the speech's aftermath, Rudolph reportedly received a standing ovation, and his classmates and teachers, he told NJ.com, have been supportive. Reaction has been more split on the video's YouTube page, where congratulatory comments share space with anti-LGBT sentiments.

steve revette January 24, 2013 at 03:27 PM
What a brave thing to. Your absolutely right. I would never be able to do something like that in a crowd of 10 people not alone over 100. Great job Jacob.
Natalie Davis January 24, 2013 at 05:13 PM
Just occurred to me that I met Jacob and his dad at a recent Board of Education meeting. Fine young man.
Diane Campbell January 25, 2013 at 01:00 AM
It's because of brave people like Jacob that others will find the strength and pride in who they are.
David Comora January 25, 2013 at 03:19 AM
I find it simply amazing that kids today are able to freely express themselves and that the vast majority of their peers are so accepting. The fact that this boy received a standing ovation from his classmates gives me so much hope for this next generation.
Citizen Jane January 25, 2013 at 03:07 PM
Way to go Jacob, my kid is a few years younger than you, but is in band with you and we've only known you as a fabulous trumpet player. We now admire you for standing strong and being brave enough to reveal yourself! You will make it easier for young people to be ok with themselves everywhere. We have no doubt that you will have a great future ahead of you!

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