In high school, the captain of the varsity football team usually has an alpha-male status at the school. In teen romance movies, he dates the head cheerleader and they’ve both voted homecoming king and queen.

But at Valley High School in Santa Ana, California, the varsity captain made an important point about male friendship by agreeing to be his gay friend’s date to homecoming.

During lunch hour on National Coming Out Day, Alexander Duarte, a gay student, staged an elaborate proposal.


With hundreds of friends looking on, Duarte stepped out of a door that read “Out of the Closet” and in front of a sigh that read: “I know I’m GAY, but can I take you STRAIGHT 2 HOMECOMING?” and asked his straight friend, quarterback Erick Pineda, to go to the Homecoming dance with him.

Pineda said, “Yes.”

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“It’s very important for me to be going to Homecoming with Alexander because I’m setting an example for not only my school, but also my community,” Pineda said. “I was definitely excited to be asked to homecoming because I knew how important this was for my friend and seeing the support from the staff and students was amazing.”

“I’m very grateful to be the captain of the football team. The team is very supportive and multiple teammates have approached me to congratulate me and have given me ‘RESPECT’ for my actions,” he added.

During freshman year, Pineda treated Duarte in a way he later apologized for, by going as Duarte’s date, he’s showing him the true meaning of friendship. “He [Pineda] also said that he loved me and that he will always be there for me if needed,” Duarte said.

Duarte asked Pineda to the prom to show people that it’s ok to “be themselves,” he told Yahoo. “Because one of the main things that hold people back aren’t others but ourselves.”

Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

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Two sisters ask their stepmom to adopt them with sweet memory book

"We were already calling her mom because it felt so natural."

Gabriella Ruvolo/TikTok

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Sisters Gabriella and Julianna Ruvolo know that they're extremely lucky. Their stepmom Becky Ruvolo has been there for them for most of their lives and it's clear that they're grateful to her for it. On May 9, Gabriella posted a video to TikTok to share the very special way the young women honored their stepmom for Mother's Day.

In the short clip, you can see Becky flanked by the two girls, flipping through a book. On the video are the words "After 12 years… we finally asked our step-mom to adopt us." As Becky goes through the pages, you can see her becoming increasingly more emotional before she gets to the last page. By then, all three of the women are crying.

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Sandy Hook school shooting survivors are growing up and telling us what they've experienced.

This story originally appeared on 12.15.21


Imagine being 6 years old, sitting in your classroom in an idyllic small town, when you start hearing gunshots. Your teacher tries to sound calm, but you hear the fear in her voice as she tells you to go hide in your cubby. She says, "be quiet as a mouse," but the sobs of your classmates ring in your ears. In four minutes, you hear more than 150 gunshots.

You're in the first grade. You wholeheartedly believe in Santa Claus and magic. You're excited about losing your front teeth. Your parents still prescreen PG-rated films so they can prepare you for things that might be scary in them.

And yet here you are, living through a horror few can fathom.

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