A New York-based high school student came out by draping a rainbow flag over his shoulders at his class’s graduation ceremony – and everybody loved it!
Talking to Buzzfeed News, 18-year-old Shankar Lal explained that he had been planning to do some kind of coming-out stunt for weeks but the idea to use the flag didn’t strike him until he came across some pride-themed clothing and accessories while shopping at Target.
“I thought to myself, ‘Wouldn’t it be crazy if I just whipped out a pride flag at graduation?’” he told the publication.
And that’s exactly what he ended up doing. Lal documented the moment by sharing a friend’s video on Instagram, which sees him stepping up on stage to collect his diploma before pulling out a rainbow, striped flag and wrapping it around himself.
As he does so, cheers can be heard from the audience, meanwhile teaching staff and other school officials on stage can be seen clapping.
Talking about the room’s reaction, Lal—who graduated from the Media Arts & Music program at Hillcrest High School —said: “The response was insane.
“I walked across the stage with my pride flag over my shoulders and suddenly everyone started cheering for me. I remember hearing my principal and teachers tell me they were proud of me.”
He went on to say that he’s also received an overwhelming amount of support on social media too. He called the moment one of the proudest experiences of his life.
Lal came out to his parents not long before his graduation in late June. He admits that while they were initially “concerned” due to their lack of experience around LGBT+ people, they have “learned to be more accepting and supportive.”
“I approached this situation as an opportunity to educate them,” he said. “I tried my best to teach them about LGBT people and culture. After the graduation ceremony, my mom gave me a big hug and told me how proud she was of me.”
Similarly, Lal hopes that young people questioning their sexuality, even those he doesn’t know personally, might see his video and feel empowered and given a sense of hope.
“Being in the closet can be such a dark and lonely experience,” he confessed. “I want people to see a positive coming out experience — I would hope that they feel inspired to live in their truth.”