Craig Cassey on MSNBC live!

May 17, 2011 § 13 Comments

Dry like Winter’s skin, my throat craved water – begging me to tear through two bottles within the three remaining minutes before my interview. I was excited. Ecstatic! And freakishly thirsty. Yet when I heard the unfamiliar “we’re in standby,” it all went away. My mind was kissed with calm and my throat… was still thirsty. Just not AS thirsty. Perhaps the good chi from my Chinese teacher came through after all! With newly relaxed shoulders and a smile in my mind, it began… and my life was altered. *Click below to see the interview video*

The inspiring and benevolent Thomas Roberts was set to interview me and inquired with 5 different questions. None were shocking, though I hadn’t anticipated their phrasing, and I admit to one misspeak: not taking my boyfriend to prom was hard – very hard. If my previously tear stained cheeks do not prove it, I’m not sure what will, for in months prior I argued over the topic exhaustively till my mother appeared ill and I needed to reevaluate my circumstances. Our circumstances. And hence the decision I arrived at.

Thankfully, through all of this, I had my best friend with me. Together we relaxed in the NBC10 lounge-like room and took photos of, you guessed it, the bathroom! It was my first time on National television after all, and we wanted to capture everything – even including the decor of a simple bathroom in our photo. Professional? Perhaps not. But where else could I catch a perfect mirror shot with my best friend of 13+ years?

My best friend Emily and me

Subsequently I raced home, attempting to make my track practice. It was a good workout though my mind raced with it’s own agenda – one centered on MSNBC and my blog. Jubilantly my mind ran rampant with ideas for follow up posts and ways I could help others – how do I turn this opportunity into one which benefits everyone? Well, at least at my school, it seemingly already has. For when I finished my workout, the reaction began – and boy was it loud and clear.

Beckoning like a base drum on any of Florence and the Machine’s singles, I heard it. No, I heard them. The futures filled with support, equality, and acceptance. Thunderously booming from every which way and then some, these base drums echoed their congratulations vigorously. Arms wrapping themselves around my neck were a common occurrence as people hugged me from behind. Many group hugs and retellings quickly ensued and ended with more hugs, laughter, and praise – especially my repeated praise of my classmates.

They are the ones who made this story possible. They are the ones who also deserve the credit. These weren’t “just” my friends who ran up to me, but everyone – though I like to think I’m friends with many people. I hugged what seems like a hundred people, which isn’t too shabby for a few hours spent walking around a track. And when I got home, the base drums started beating again even more loudly.

Interviewing with Thomas Roberts + "Philly" in the background!

Their song of acceptance had followed me home and had been playing on repeat via facebook for hours. Wall post after wall post came up of friends and family congratulating me and supporting me all the way. “You’re inspiring,” read one, “thank you for this, it’s amazing,” read another. My eyes mingled amongst these words and soaked in their appreciation, just trying to comprehend it all. Turns out, on Friday morning, word didn’t just get out about my interview – it spread like wildfire to the point where classes were watching tv at 11:40 waiting for the interview to play.

Many students, my friends tell me, asked why I would be on tv for something of such little importance. “He’s just gay,” they said – not understanding that for many schools out there a gay prom king would never occur (for now!) “It’s not like we voted him king for his gayness, we just like him!”  This is why Penncrest High School is amazing. Because my peers responded like that which shows just how far we have come as a school. What can I say, with only a few weeks left, I am still in love with my high school and do not want to leave.

My favorite part out of all of this? The people who came out to me and/or told me that they now have the confidence to come out. To live an authentic life style. To live as them! Can anything be better? It’s to those people I want to speak now: you are awesome the way you are, and whether you become a senator or a political writer, an actor extraordinare or a playwright, I think the world of you guys/girls. You have made my day, no. My week, no. My year!! It is to you underclassman that I have the utmost confidence that you will continue to keep Penncrest an accepting place and help continually further it’s progress. You. Rock!

As for everyone else, your support is greatly appreciated and understand that you have helped give me a fantastic opportunity I never imagined I would have. For that I am very grateful. Thank you. 🙂


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§ 13 Responses to Craig Cassey on MSNBC live!

  • JC says:

    Congratulations! To you and your school.

    Question for you. When you started this journey advocating for gay awareness and acceptance, bullying, etc. what was your vision? Did you see any of this happening? Or has this become much bigger than you had dreamed?

    • Craig says:

      Thanks JC!

      To answer your very good question, I can answer honestly no/yes. No, I never could have imagined that starting this journey would lead to an MSNBC interview in 3 months. That, in itself, is most likely the product of the culmination of my high school careers and made possible by this blog (the first part speaking to my crowning-the second, my interview).

      While I had hoped that I would find multiple outlets to get my story out there to help others, I assumed it would take years before anything like this would occur or at least a published book! Nevertheless, it did and I am insanely thankful.

      So this has become bigger than I dreamed of in that it occurred more quickly than I thought possible, though there is still more out there that I hope to accomplish and change that I am working to bring about. This isn’t the end point, nor a point beyond the “finish line,” simply an amazing opportunity which has helped me further my journey (by a great deal) and enable me to help more people. For that, I am forever grateful.

  • tristram says:

    Craig – I had already watched that clip on Outsports several times, and I just watched it again. You were confident, thoughtful and articulate – as you always are on this blog. By sharing your aspirations and experiences with us, you bring joy to my heart and give me courage to be myself in the face of some significant negative repercussions. And I know you are helping many, many others as well. Thanks and all best wishes!

    • Craig says:

      Thank you Tristram, I’m elated to see that the writing is having such a positive impact! And thank you again for the compliments on my speaking, my oral communications teacher will be proud to know that 9 months of her class truly payed off and I’ll be sure to cite you as a reference when I tell her that hahah. Best wishes to you too!!

  • Keith Pence says:

    Great writing – I just sent you an email – I hope you take the time to check it out!

  • This is a great story Craig, very well written. I sent you an email a day or so ago. I hope you get in touch soon. Keep writing!

  • Jim at Outsports says:

    I love how you were wearing shorts during the interview. 🙂

  • Jeremy Tiller says:

    Well it just goes to show that you and your school are prime examples of a truely accepting learning environment,it would be nice if more would follow what you’ve done.

  • studd says:

    bud, dont peak to early. life is long, college is a big change then comes more, and more. learn how to deal with stress b/c u will be under a lot. u cant control everything and not everything goes according to plan….
    some friends that u know now wont make it, try your best to loose your eye on “the reason” for all your hard work. constantly refine your vision for yourself or “the reason”.
    i wish u well

  • Eric G says:

    Craig–first of all, congratulations on being voted prom king. You’ve obviously got great character and lots of charm, and that’s what it’s all about in this crazy world! I remember being in the prom court when I was in high school–still in the closet–and thinking about the fact that I was there, being gay, and what that meant. Although that was over 20 years ago and times have changed, I can imagine what you were feeling and your story brought back memories to me. Thank you for your bravery and keep promoting tolerance, acceptance and love wherever life takes you!

  • david says:

    dear craig cassey..
    while i applaud and even secretly envy guys like you and the many 100s of other lgbt students whose lives are rich and open and whose coming out has been a positive, if occasionally uncomfortable journey.. i think a bit of perspective is in order..

    for every feel good story like yours, there are 1000s of lgbt kids in fly over america who are courting disaster with every peek out of the closet.. they lead double lives… lives of quiet desperation and meticulous artifice as they navigate their way through a culture of right-wing christian intolerance and social ridicule, seeking just to escape with their skin and dignity intact..happy relieved to finally get away from the institutionalized homophobia and bigotry of small-minded america and disappear into a more tolerant place.. a big city on a coast or a college/university town… perhaps… or they are so obviously that way that they become targets of ridicule and constant bullying – if they dont off themselves first – they disappear forever from their families and schools.. some even choose the military or the church as places of refuge and sanctuary.. the two institutions in our society where people seem to hate us most of all – perhaps more tolerant now, prolly not…

    dont get me wrong.. im proud of the lgbt youth that have the financial means to be out and proud.. with the stoic support of their families, friends, teammates, coaches, teachers, and peers to advance the cause… good on you..

    i guess im a lil jealous that coming out now- if you believe the hype – is more party than political.. you prolly dont remember when being openly gay was a life-changing, potentially deadly political statement.. just by whispering out-loud to someone i am gay you became an outlaw.. a rebel… transgressive.. a public pervert… an inevitable criminal.. the stigma that came as standard issue just by giving voice to those three words out-loud to another person could keep you out of good jobs, posh neighborhoods, public accommodations, the military, the church, hospital rooms where partners and loved ones were dying, teaching in schools… adopting children… places where only decent people were allowed…

    ill spare you the bloody details of my own coming out, save to say that at the time, it was pretty much assumed that if you were gay you had a.i.d.s., and that your sole purposes in life, poz or not, was to spread a.i.d.s. and recruit children into your sinful/illegitimate/illegal lifestyle; thus destroying the american family and by association, america… you were so depraved that you were automatically assumed to be worse than hitler… you should be must be stopped.. by any means necessary..

    i hope you do very well at georgetown.. that yoour decision to be out doesnt force you to quit school to get a full-time job in order to have a safe place to live and food to eat…
    being a pampered elite high school athlete in a mostly white upper-middle class suburban school district near a large metro area makes a huge difference…

    craig.. if you do decide to go into public service, try and make a difference where it matters most… in small town fly-over america.. in latter-day-saints america.. in reagan country… in texas… dont just become an intern at the advocate or lawyer/lobbyist for the flavor of the month lgbt advocacy group… be a district attorney in salt lake city.. a city manager in indiana or missouri.. a public policy director in idaho.. a city councilman in phoenix… run for political office in texas…
    go somewhere that is not safe for lgbt youth and make it safer..

    ~ cheers… david

    ps.. if you had had the opportunity to be a freedom rider, would you have been one?

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