This D.C. Principal Is An Inspiration

by Alicia Lu

On Wednesday, the principal of Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington, D.C., Pete Cahall, told his students he was gay during the school's second annual Pride Day. And the principal was as inspired by his students as they were by him, crediting them as the inspiration for his decision to come out. According to the Washington Post, Cahall was shaking as he made the announcement, saying that he'd "hid in the shadows for the last 50 years."

"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," Cahall told a large audience in the school's atrium. The speech was met with resounding applause and cheers.

The lunchtime Pride Day event was also joined by D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray; David Catania, the D.C. Council's first openly gay member; and a number of organizations and government agencies that offer support to the LGBTQ community.

"I am glad to be an ally of the LGBTQ community, and I'm very proud that we have been a true leader in advancing causes like marriage equality and transgender awareness and equality here in the District since I've been in public office," Mayor Gray told the crowd at the event, according to WUSA9. "I especially celebrate the LGBTQ community today, and I'm excited — as always — to take part in the Capital Pride festivities this weekend."

Gray congratulated Cahall on his coming out and encouraged students to follow suit in being their true selves, saying, "There is nothing worse than walking around having to hide who you are."

Catania, who came out when he was 20, told the Post that he understood the "silent, quiet, isolating sense of desperation" of keeping one's true sexual orientation a secret. He commented that Cahall's announcement was about more than acceptance, that it was also about honesty. "I think this is the most important lesson that these students will learn this year," he said.

Students reacted to their principal's touching speech with overwhelming praise and emotion. Many others in the D.C. area have also taken to Twitter to voice their support, like D.C. schools reporter for the Washington Post, Emma Brown.

And press secretary for D.C. Public Schools, Melissa Salmanowitz.

And D.C. Councilmember David Grosso.

Unfortunately, of course we can't have all this positivity and progress of the human race without that group of hateful people with nothing better to do, aka the Westboro Baptist Church, jumping in to remind us that progress doesn't always come easy. Before Wilson High's Pride Day took place this year, the church had already announced that it would protest the event, and their hate fest is scheduled for next Monday, June 9.

Wednesday will always be remembered at Wilson High as a groundbreaking day for the LGBTQ community, and the community at large. But the biggest impact the day has had was no doubt on Cahall himself. "I've hid all my life," Cahall told his students. Now, he feels like "like a ton of bricks [are] lifted."

Image: Wikipedia