Shankar Lal Just Came Out To His Entire High School At Graduation - It Was Perfect

Shankar Lal
Shankar LalShankar Lal via BuzzFeed News

We’ve made some strides as a global society to be more open-minded and LGBTQ-friendly, but there’s still a long way to go. Coming out and identifying as anything other than heterosexual is always a challenge, no matter where you live and usually, more so when your origins include South Asian parentage. Everybody’s experiences and journey to embracing their true selves is distinctly particular. An amalgamation of the people in their lives, the country they live in, the neighbourhood, their dreams. It’s a permutation and combination of things that’s as unique as a fingerprint for queer youth, which is why the stories never feel like a repeat to us.

As a publication, we’ve tried to sustain the conversation about LGBTQ rights and equality, while simultaneously giving India’s queer youth a platform to make their voices heard through our series of ‘Coming Out’ stories. We’ve read about the hardships people face, judgement from friends and family and battling an ‘Indian culture’ mentality where anything other than heteronormative societal standards is considered unacceptable.

It’s these conversations that we’ve had that makes watching 18-year-old Shankar Lal walk across the stage at his high school graduation ceremony with a rainbow flag draped around him. The crowd at the ceremony at Hillcrest High School in New York, erupted with cheers and applause as they watch Lal walk with pride. The entire moment was captured and posted by Lal on his Instagram page and has become an inspiration for young people all around the world.

Speaking to BuzzFeed News, Lal said that he had planned to come out to his friends and classmates a month before the ceremony and had already done the same with his family a few months back. He expressed that at first his family was “concerned and taken aback”, not being “exposed to many LGBT people in their lives.”

“I approached this situation as an opportunity to educate them,” he said. “I tried my best to teach them about LGBT people and culture. Now they’ve learned to be more accepting and supportive. After the graduation ceremony, my mom gave me a big hug and told me how proud she was of me.”

In India, section 377 and its lack of resolution recently still has people on tenterhooks as far as the decriminalisation of gay sex is concerned. It’s what makes watching an Indian origin boy embrace his sexuality and identity with full freedom at such a young age all the more special. You can watch the entire video here on his Instagram and see more of him on his Youtube page.

Read his interview with BuzzFeed News here.

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