His school canceled his speech after learning that he's gay. What resulted was actually awesome.

It's really unfortunate that he wasn't able to give this speech to his classmates, but now his words will reach so many more.

After four years of hard work, 18-year-old Evan Young was set to make the speech of a — until suddenly, he wasn't.

Young wrapped up his senior year at Twin Peaks Charter Academy High School in Longmont, Colorado, with a 4.5 grade point average and the title of class valedictorian. As is tradition at schools around the country, he was granted the chance to give a short speech at the graduation ceremony on May 16, 2015.

But that's until school principal B.J. Buchmann told Young that he would not be delivering a speech.


Young was planning on outing himself as gay during his speech. School administrators were not OK with that.

According to the school, Young's speech was canceled in part because it "included references to personal matters of a sexual nature" and it wasn't "appropriate for a speech at a graduation ceremony."

It's always kind of frustrating to see anything related to gay people automatically labeled as being "of a sexual nature" and therefore deemed inappropriate for school. Do you think if a valedictorian thanked his girlfriend or her boyfriend during a speech it'd be labeled as a "personal matter" of "sexual nature"? Probably not.

Coming out during graduation ceremonies happens pretty frequently, actually. Here's an example from the same month, also in Colorado:


While all this is really not cool, it's not even the worst part: In addition to canceling Young's speech, Buchmann called his parents and outed him to them without his consent.

Seeeeeriously not cool. GIF via Giphy.

But thanks to "The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore," Young got to give his speech and it was awesome.

It was funny, honest, and just overall the type of thing that will make you tear up — so long as your heart is not made of actual stone.

He runs through some of his "secrets," which touch on things like homework he didn't like and other small issues. The whole point was to build up to his big secret: He's gay.


Images via Comedy Central.

Now, it's just so sad that in today's world, someone's existence can be considered a "divisive issue."

Think about his statement: "I understand this might be offensive to some people, but it's who I am."

In what world should anyone or anything's existence be in and of itself offensive? Like, I'm not a fan of canned tuna, but I'm not like, "The mere existence of tuna offends me! Wipe it from the ocean so that I no longer have to share this earth with such a vile creature!" I simply go, "OK, yeah. I'm not going to order the tuna sandwich."

It's really that simple. Think of something in your life that you don't particularly care for in terms of music, food, or something like that. Now, here's the question: Do you devote time to stopping others from enjoying it? Or do you just go about your life? I'm guessing it's the latter.

Young ended his speech with a really simple request: Hug someone.

We all have to share this world and there's no point in trying to pretend that people don't exist. Young's speech wasn't of a "sexual" nature. It was just him being himself and the world could do a lot of good by following his advice.

Check out Evan Young's segment on "The Nightly Show" below:

More

Comedy legend Carol Burnett once said, "Giving birth is like taking your lower lip and forcing it over your head." She wasn't joking.

Going through childbirth is widely acknowledged as one of the most grueling things a human can endure. Having birthed three babies myself, I can attest that Burnett's description is fairly accurate—if that seemingly impossible lip-stretching feat lasted for hours and involved a much more sensitive part of your body.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via SNL / YouTube

Christopher Walken is one of the greatest actors of his generation. He's been nominated for an Academy Award twice for best supporting actor, winning once for 1978's "The Deer Hunter" and receiving a nomination for 2002's "Catch Me if You Can."

He's played memorable roles in "Annie Hall," "Pulp Fiction," "Wedding Crashers," "Batman Returns," and countless other films. He's also starred in Shakespeare on the stage and began his career as a dancer.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

RELATED: This fascinating comic explains why we shouldn't use some Native American designs.

Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

popular

Gerrymandering is a funny word, isn't it? Did you know that it's actually a mashup of the name "Gerry" and the word "salamander"? Apparently, in 1812, Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry had a new voting district drawn that seemed to favor his party. On a map, the district looked like a salamander, and a Boston paper published it with the title The GerryMander.

That tidbit of absurdity seems rather tame compared to an entire alphabet made from redrawn voting districts a century later, and yet here we are. God bless America.

Keep Reading Show less
popular