Dominic Sheahan-Stahl is a former student at Sacred Heart Academy, and this year his younger brother was graduating. Dominic was thrilled to have been asked to be the keynote speaker for the graduation, until....
He was un-invited when school officials learned he was gay.
And the SHA 2012 graduating class wasn't at all happy about the decision either, and made sure the community knew what was happening by voicing their anger over the school’s decision to cancel Sheahan-Stahl’s speech.
But Sheahan-Stahl wasn’t so angry, and he wasn't about to be stopped.
He still gave his keynote speech, but in a different place, where bigotry doesn't set the rules.
He spoke to some 700 people packed into Warriner Hall on Central Michigan University’s campus Sunday afternoon and the graduating class from the Sacred Heart Academy were the first ones to enter.
Sheahan-Stahl explained what it felt like to be asked to be the Sacred Heart Academy graduation speaker: “You know those moments in your life that don’t happen often. But the moment when something happens it starts in the pit of your stomach and creeps into your heart and it fills your whole body? I felt that feeling when I got my first professional job and I felt that feeling the moment I was asked to be the commencement speaker of the 2012 graduation class of SHA....I want you to know that feeling has never ever left me.”
Sheahan-Stahl mentioned how proud he was to be speaking at his younger brother’s graduation: “It’s amazing that’s it’s the end of three generations of Sheahan’s at SHA and I think that it is a wonderful tradition.”
During his speech, Sheahan-Stahl made sure his message got across. “I choose faith over fear always,” he said with conviction.
At one time Sheahan-Stahl, who works as an actor in New York City, compared himself to his friends who were getting jobs on Broadway, and wondered if he was a failure, but he soon realized that, “To compare is to despair. My life, like your life, is my own and it has its own direction, time and pace.”
“Never ever, ever forget that because every single one of you in this room and every person in this world was put on this earth for a reason. You’re all wonderful, you’re all amazing and you all matter....“the world needs what I have to give.”
He received a standing ovation.
And, interestingly enough, his being a gay man never once came up because it was a graduation speech; it was about life, and growing up, and learning and becoming. All things the officials at Sacred Heart apparently didn't want their students to hear.
Faith over fear.