Yesterday, I told you about Stormé DeLarverie, the drag king believed to have thrown the first punch that sparked the modern-day civil rights movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans. And we all know about Edie Windsor, Kris Perry, Sandy Stier, Jeff Zarrillo and Paul Katami, the Supreme Court litigants whose cases brought more equity and fairness to same-sex couples. They weren’t famous or powerful. They were just plain folks who were tired of being denied their rights as Americans and to be who they are openly and proudly.
The students at Woodrow Wilson High School here in Washington witnessed something just as historic at its Pride Day rally today. Pete Cahall, the school’s principal, used the occasion to come out. Saying he “hid in the shadows for the last 50 years,” Cahall went on to say, “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.”
Wilson Principal Pete Cahall comes out as gay to his students at Pride Day. Emotional moment and huge cheers. pic.twitter.com/7cXtMpR1NH
— emma brown (@emmersbrown) June 4, 2014
According to The Post’s Emma Brown, Cahall was greeted with “a loud, long cheer” and hugs from the students. One student told Brown, “I feel really proud of him, even though obviously he’s an adult.” A student organizer of the pride event said, “I teared up. … If it inspires other people to come out, that’s great.”
“I’ve hid all my life,” Cahall told Brown. “In this community, with these kids, I’d be a big hypocrite if I didn’t speak my truth.”
It’s that willingness of just plain folks like Cahall to speak their truth, to be open and honest about who they are, that has had and is having the greatest impact on people’s views of the LGBT community. That Cahall came out standing next to Mayor Vincent Gray (D) and the two candidates running to replace him — D.C. Council members Muriel Bowser (D) and David Catania (I), who is openly gay — shows you just how much of an impact coming out can have.
Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @Capehartj