Wilson High School Principal Pete Cahall came out as gay at a Pride Day assembly on Wednesday, breaking decades of silence in an emotional address to the student body. Standing next to D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) and David A. Catania (I) — the first openly gay D.C. councilmember — Cahall gave this speech, what he titled his “Introduction of Mayor Gray at the Capitol Gay Pride Day.” The following is Cahall’s speech, as it was prepared:
“Mayor Gray, Councilmembers, scholars and guests, I am Principal Cahall. Welcome to the second annual Capitol Gay Pride Day at Wilson High School.
Mayor Gray, I want to thank you for your consistent support and action on behalf of the LGBTQ community. You have led the way to allow members of our LGBTQ community to be full partners in our city. You have been relentless and absolute for ensuring equity for all people of our city, the nation’s capitol city, and setting the bar for acceptance, inclusion, and full membership into the city’s culture and daily life as valued citizens of Washington, D.C.
A few weeks ago, I turned 50 years old. This was a watershed time for me and you have influenced what I would like to announce today. I have hid in the shadows for the last 50 years. Your leadership has given me the courage and inspiration to say what I need and must say today.
As a former athlete, people like Jason Collins and Michael Sam have given me the inspiration to say what I want to announce today. Since being at Wilson, I have been inspired by my colleagues Alex Wilson, Julie Caccamise, Rob Geremia, Michael Garbus and Chris Obermeyer. I have felt the love and support of the greater Wilson and DCPS community for our LGBTQ members including Councilmember Catania.
But the critical factor for me as the principal has been that I have been inspired by my students.
To date, I have not made this declaration because I did not want my kids to think of me differently or not respect me. Those fears were obstacles in my mind because of the culture of when and where I grew up.
Mayor Gray, you have led the way and set the circumstances that I could never imagine as a high school student or high school principal to say what I want to say today.
I have hid in the shadows, but I am liberated today to be me and let myself be me without fear, retaliation or consequence. I feel safe and want all of my students and staff to be and feel safe.
I have used this quote from a Lady Gaga song before but think that it is absolutely appropriate today: “No matter gay straight or bi/ Lesbian, transgendered life/ I’m on the right track baby/ I was born to survive/ No matter black, white or beige/ Chola or orient made/ I’m on the right track baby/ I was born to be brave.”
Mayor Gray, I want to say publicly for the first time, because of your leadership, care and support, that I am a proud gay man who just happens to be the principal of Wilson High School.”