A Washington, D.C., principal was met with cheers as he came out to his students as gay during a Pride Day event that drew protest threats from Westboro Baptist Church.
"I turned 50. I'm tired of hiding," Principal Pete Cahall said before praising Wilson High School's students for the supportive environment they've created since Westboro Baptist Church made their plans known.
This is the first time Cahall, who has been the principal at Wilson for six years, has come out publicly. D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray was informed of his decision just moments before.
The school held its second annual Pride Day event Wednesday, bringing together over 20 organizations that support the needs of LGBTQ youth.
Westboro, known for its public crusade against gay people at military funerals, announced plans to protest the school's Pride celebration on June 9 and called the school's support of gay and lesbian students a "shame." That protest is just one of 12 the church has planned in the D.C. area over the next few days.
After Westboro made its intentions known, students at Wilson began planning a peaceful counter-protest, The Washington Post reported. Around 1,000 students volunteered to participate in the silent protest.
"They can go straight to hell" - Mayor Gray on threat of Westboro Baptist to protest gay issues at Wilson High on Monday. — Tom Sherwood (@tomsherwood) June 4, 2014
Cahall's announcement was also met with support from local politicians, like D.C. Councilmember David Catania, who is also gay.
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Congratulations to @Wilsonhsdcps Principal Pete Cahall for his courage in coming out today to his students. Great example of #tigerpride — Mary Cheh (@marycheh) June 4, 2014
Congratulating Principal Cahall at @Wilsonhsdcps about his remarkable announcement today. pic.twitter.com/lgnfPRdJdy — David Catania (@DavidCataniaDC) June 4, 2014