Being born into a white, male, Christian and heterosexual lifestyle, I have never been a cultural target for simply saying who I am. But I know courage when I see it, so here’s to the Belton High School Salutatorian Mitch Anderson who came out so powerfully at his graduation speech. And thanks to Pam Wagner for passing it on.

“Learning how to love and celebrate yourself is one of the most crucial and difficult aspects of life. To know who you truly are is the first step to enlightenment, to happiness. It sounds so facile, yet discovering and accepting who you are meant to be requires introspection and a willingness to submerge yourself into darkness. And that is what makes the task so daunting, so terrifying, if approached with complete authenticity. For the longest time, I was forced to live fractured, refusing to look at who I thought I was and then refusing to accept who I thought I might be. The journey into the soul is not for the faint of heart. Fear will naturally creep in, but those who use the fear to force themselves onward will succeed. After much dread and countless hours devoted to soul searching, for the first time, you will be able to love who you are.”