VIDEO: Teens come out, band performs at schoolwide, student-led assembly

This past Friday, the NYC Lab School, located in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, exhibited what it means to truly come together in support of LGBT pride and spirit during its annual Pridefest. Founded in 2007, the high school's gay-straight alliance (GSA) puts on a school-wide celebratory assembly very year in which students share short stories, speeches, songs, and poems about LGBT issues, equality, and pride. The theme of this year's Pridefest, which began with a reading of Maya Angelou's "Equality," was "Love is Love."

Pridefest celebrated diverse identities through an array of presentations. Sometimes upbeat and sometimes emotional, the impressive event was organized by two seniors and one junior, and effectively rallied students, teachers, allies, and visitors.

The high school's gymnasium was decorated with large rainbow flags, streamers, student-to-student notes of support, and a pledge to support the LGBT community. The students and teachers in attendance encouraged the courageous students who gave heartfelt and informative speeches and shared personal coming-out stories. 

One student came out to her peers as asexual, explaining what it feels like to be asexual during a time when most teenagers are discovering their sexual orientation. Asexuality is rarely included in discussions of LGBT issues or celebrations of pride, with many people skeptical of the existence of asexuality, said the student. The fact that this high school student felt comfortable enough to tell her story to the entire school exemplified the safety and support of this student body. 

Two students brought tears to many eyes when they both came out to the school as bisexual. One sophomore, who recounted how easy it was to come out to her supportive group of friends, ended her story with a meaningful tip for other LGBT youth fearing rejection from their friends:

"Don't assume the hate of homophobia is everywhere because it's not." 

Another student, one of the GSA's co-presidents, revealed that he is bisexual in his moving speech that garnered him a standing ovation. The student said later on:

"I felt that as a leader in a club celebrating acceptance, I wasn't being true to myself." 

He felt that coming out as bisexual was his responsibility as a GSA leader, and that he was being hypocritical by not feeling comfortable enough to openly express his identity to his peers.

Pridefest closed with a performance from the band Great Caesar, whose music video for their single "Don't Ask Me Why" was released earlier this year.  The song celebrates love, diversity, and equality, and the performance was a perfect ending to a great celebration of pride. Great Caesar asked Maddie, a student at NYC Lab, to join them on stage. Check out the moving performance below:

GLAAD, as well as the Ali Forney Center and the Brooklyn Community Pride Center, attended Pridefest and joined the student organizers afterwards for pizza.

The NYC Lab School's Pridefest is a tradition that will hopefully continue on for many years and encourage other high schools to do the same, because peer support and acceptance is crucial for LGBT youth.