NJ Teen Announces He's Gay In Front Of High School Assembly

PHOTO: In this Youtube video posted, Jan. 21, 2013, a high school senior publicly tells 300+ students he is an LGBT teen during the presentation of senior class awards.
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It wasn't until 18-year-old Jacob Rudolph's online video announcing he was gay hit 100,000 views that he allowed himself to celebrate.

On Jan. 18, the Parsippany, N.J., high school senior accepted an award for best actor during his senior class awards ceremony. What happened next would be caught on camera by Rudolph's closest friend, sitting in a crowd of more than 300 students and school staff.

"I was very nervous but after I realized what I was doing would be benefitting the LGBT community as a whole, that was when I really didn't think much of it anymore," said Rudolph. "As far as a personal detriment to me, there was none, because it was so much bigger than me at that point."

Rudolph began his announcement by thanking everyone for choosing him as the recipient of the class actor award.

"Sure, I've been in a few plays and musicals, but more importantly, I've been acting every single day of my life," said Rudolph during his speech. "You see, I've been acting as someone I'm not. Most of you see me every day. You see me acting the part of 'straight Jacob.' But I'm in fact LBGT."

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He then explains what the acronym for LGBT stands for and adds, "It's time to end the hate in our society and accept the people for who they are regardless of their sex, race, orientation or whatever is holding back love and friendship."

Just two and a half hours before he accepted his award, Rudolph made the decision to use the opportunity to "come out" and wrote a speech with the help of his father, Jonathan Rudolph.

"He just said, 'You just need to know you're sure, but I'll support you in any decision you make,'" said Rudolph. "I've been extremely blessed and lucky to have supportive parents."

Rudolph told ABCNews.com just before the ceremony that he strategically placed friends throughout the crowd to cheer and applaud "in case nobody else did."

"I expected sort of like a polite silence," said Rudolph. "The reaction was so overwhelming."

A few days later, his father edited and posted the minute-and-a-half confession on YouTube. Rudolph said he wouldn't celebrate the video going viral until it reached 100,000 views and close to 1,000 comments. As of Jan. 24, the video had over 100,000 views.

"I guess it's time to celebrate," said Rudolph.

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The attention his video is garnering is not surprising to Rudolph, who hopes to become more involved with the LGBT activist movement. In the days following his admission, Rudolph has received countless text messages from close friends and even an international online message from a supporter in Holland.

"This has become important enough to so many Americans that this is getting the attention it deserves," he said. "Everybody has the strength to do what I did. It just takes a great deal of timing and support from your family and friends."

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Rudolph said the venue from which he chose to share his confession was "unique" but eventually he would have come out.

"I think the timing was perfect in the situation especially considering the irony in me winning class actor," he said. "I'm assuming there could be others out there who've been impacted by my video and could do something similar."

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