Gay teen speaks out after classmates do Nazi salute
A gay high school student has spoken out, after a photo that appears to show his classmates doing a Nazi salute attracted widespread condemnation.
The prom photo of the senior class at Baraboo High School in Baraboo, Wisconsin, provoked outrage on social media on November 12.
Many of the students in the all-male photo appear to be performing a Nazi salute, while at least one of the students is also flashing a white supremacist hand symbol.
Bragging about the stunt in a since-deleted tweet, one student wrote: “We even got the black kid to throw it up #barabooproud.”
But one student in the photo has instead attracted attention for his refusal to take part in his classmates’ actions.
The defiant teen is is gay student Jordan Blue, who has spoken out about the incident.
“I was uncomfortable, I was very hurt, I was scared for the future.”
— Jordan Blue
Blue explained that the photographer had asked the class to “wave” to their parents, when they instead decided to do the Nazi salute.
Jordan Blue called out the Nazi salute
In a statement, Jordan Blue said that several of the classmates pictured “have bullied me since entering middle school.” He said: “I have struggled with it my entire life and nothing has changed. Nothing has been done and my question is… will anything ever be done?”
He told CBS: “As soon as I heard the photographer say ‘raise your hand,’ I knew what was going to happen. My classmates interpreted it, [and thought], let’s do this as a joke.
“I think they did [know what it represented]. It did not represent my morals, and I could not do something I did not believe in.”
He told CNN: “Knowing the outcome of the situation, I would not have gone up there. It was a scary moment, it was very shocking and upsetting, and it was a huge misrepresentation of the school district and community of Baraboo.
“I was uncomfortable, I was very hurt, I was scared for the future. It shouldn’t be OK, and it’s not OK.”
The town of Baraboo, Wisconsin has a population of 12,000 people. Donald Trump picked up 46.9% of the vote in the county in 2016.
Nazi salute photo condemned by Auschwitz Memorial
The official Twitter account of the Auschwitz Memorial wrote about the photo: “It is so hard to find words… this is why every single day we work hard to educate.
“We need to explain what is the danger of hateful ideology rising. Auschwitz with its gas chambers was at the very end of the long process of normalizing and accommodating hatred.”
However the photographer who took the photo, Pete Gust, has defended the student.
He claimed in a statement quoted in The Huffington Post: “It was waving goodbye to their parents [and] having a good time… there was nothing that diminished the quality of anyone’s life.
“There was nothing that diminished anyone’s stature in society, there was nothing that was intended to point a finger at anyone in their class who may have some kind of difference. There was none of that.”
Far-right radicalisation on the internet
More from PinkNews
The photo has re-opened discussions about far-right radicalisation of young people.
Former white supremacist leader Christian Picciolini previously revealed that groups targeted players of mainstream games such as Fortnite, Minecraft and Call of Duty.
Online video platform YouTube has also come under heavy criticism for failing to tackle far-right activists who use the site as a radicalisation tool.
A Data Society report in September warned that so-called ‘alt-right’ YouTubers were taking advantage of the site’s algorithms to push an extremist ideology to young people.