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Student comes out as gay during Venice High School graduation ceremony

Teen speaks out about coming out during Venice H.S. graduation ceremony.
Teen speaks out about coming out during Venice H.S. graduation ceremony.(WWSB)
Published: May. 24, 2022 at 6:13 PM EDT
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VENICE, Fla. (WWSB) - It’s not your usual place that someone would come out as gay.

William Harless made a bold statement at his Venice High School graduation on Friday. He officially came out to the world, including his family. He carried the multicolor pride flag across the stage when his name was announced.

“The reason I chose graduation to come out is because I really wanted to stay true to myself, because graduation is all about your achievements,” said Harless. “And you can’t really acknowledge your achievements if you’re not acknowledging your true self.”

Harless says this is something he was looking to do since his seventh grade days in West Virginia. Five years later he says this felt like it was the right moment.

“It feels amazing, like a weight has been taken off my shoulders,” said Harless. “I have really been able to stay true to myself because I no longer feel like I don’t need to hide a part of myself. I feel genuinely free.”

Christine Grossman with ALSO Youth in Sarasota says what Harless did and what Zander Moricz had done with his graduation speech at Pine View School is inspirational. She says coming out as gay or something else can be an emotional challenge for so many kids.

“Everybody’s experience looks different,” said Grossman. “It’s humbling to see Will and Zander as well as other youth step up and make their words heard, and let kids know it is OK to be who you are.”

Harless says Zander Moricz standing up for gay issues has helped him and so many others. He shares these words of encouragement for anyone struggling with their identity and coming out.

“With all the issues and topics of coming out, I don’t want people who are in the LGBTQ+ community to feel they are censored,” said Harless.

“I want them to feel like they can walk across that stage expressing their true identity, and Zander’s speech as well as his movement is very important, because it affects people like me, as well as my community.”

Harless says that his family and friends have been very supportive.

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