Texas university elects first gay student President
An out student president is set to take office in the heart of Texas – after facing homophobia during the election campaign.
Bobby Brooks of Texas A&M University topped the ballot for the role, overcoming old-fashioned homophobia in the Lone Star state.
The 21-year-old economics student at the College Station institution, said he was determined not to hide his sexuality during the campaign – even though others attempted to make it an issue.
He told student publication The Battallion: “If I sell my identity short, I’m selling the identities short of every single person on this campus who doesn’t have the opportunity to run for student body president.
“How am I supposed to tell someone’s little sibling who wants to come to Texas A&M that ‘It’s going to be fine, we’re working on a better Texas A&M,’ when I actively repress my identity for X amount of time just to get something?”
Mr Brooks, who grew up in Texas, explained to CNN that he had repressed his sexuality for years before coming to terms with it.
He said: “I was very nervous; I was afraid of myself. I used to just think it would go away, and I’d be fine one day. It was a very intense form of self-suppression.”
Mr Brooks has had issues while at university, and faced homophobic slurs during the election campaign.
He said: “Most Aggies (A&M students) are very accepting but there are a few that have a negative view of people that are different than they are.”
In a Facebook post he wrote: “To those of you who spoke poorly about me based upon my sexual orientation or personal religion (and talk gets around, my friends), I forgive you. I really do.”
He added: “I can’t express enough wholehearted thanks to my family who encouraged my dreams, to my campaign team who sacrificed countless hours of free time, to every friend who smiled and hugged me when I shared this seemingly ridiculous idea, or to every person who searched me out to share their vision of how to make Texas A&M the best university in the world.
“I couldn’t do this for any other university; Texas A&M has always had my heart, and it always will. I’m ready to get to work, Texas A&M.”