PARSIPPANY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A New Jersey high school student revealed something about himself while accepting an award for class actor in front of his entire senior class.
During an awards ceremony last Friday, Parsippany High School senior Jacob Rudolph stood on stage in front of 300 students, as well as teachers and parents, and told the crowd that he is gay.
“I’ve been in a few plays and musicals, but more importantly, I’ve been acting every single day of my life,” Rudolph told the crowd. “You see, I’ve been acting as someone I’m not; when most of you see me everyday you see me acting the part of straight Jacob, when I am in fact an LGBT teen.”
“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,” he concluded.
The revelation was met with cheers and a standing ovation.
“It just felt like all the tension in my body was gone,” Rudolph told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg. “I could never have pictured that kind of reaction.”
The 18-year-old said he was living a lie for too long and couldn’t take it anymore.
“A lot of people don’t comprehend just how taxing something like this is,” he said. “I was always constantly living in fear that my guy friends would not understand and they would reject me.”
Rudolph described coming out to his entire class as surreal.
“My life had just been divided into a sharp before and after — before I came out, after I came out,” the teen said. “Had I known then what I know now I probably would’ve done this sooner.”
The teen hopes he inspires others.
“You all have the strength to accomplish something greater than yourself,” Rudolph said.
Jonathan Rudolph said his son’s decision to come out “took more guts than anything I’ve ever attempted in my life.”
He uploaded a video of his son’s speech on YouTube. It has generated more than 93,000 views.
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