Zachary Miller is an 18-year-old graduate of Sioux Falls Lincoln High School. He's representing South Dakota in dramatic oral interpretation at the National Forensic League tournament in Dallas next week. He's gay.
...Five years ago, at just 13, he came out to his parents.
"At one point during the summer I sat down with my mom and I told her," Miller said. "She said it was okay and it didn't change who I was, she still loved me unconditionally."
Miller says from that moment he knew he wanted others to feel the same acceptance. That's what brought him to the Lincoln High School oral interp team, which is ranked 12th in the nation out of more than 3,000 schools.
"I think oral interp has really given me the voice I've always wanted," Miller said.
Miller uses it to promote his message: That everyone deserves the kindness and respect he received when he came out. Even in school, his sexual orientation was rarely an issue.
"I didn't have as much of a problem with that as some would expect," Miller said. "In Sioux Falls, I'm really proud of the acceptance from classmates and wasn't ever bullied" [Katie Janssen, "Finding a Voice," KELOLand.com, 2011.06.02].
Oh, that dastardly liberal media, daring to tell us stories about young people speaking up for equality and decency.
I've had the pleasure of judging Miller in a few oral interp contests. He's very good. I'm proud to have had the chance to critique Miller and help strengthen his voice. I'm proud that he's representing South Dakota at Nationals. I'm proud that he's found the courage to acknowledge his difference at an age when being different can be really hard.
Perhaps most importantly, we should all be proud of the students, teachers, and parents at Sioux Falls Lincoln, who apparently have created a culture in which Miller and many other young people can grow and learn and succeed without the distractions of violent hatred.