Ryan Kendall is a hero. Ryan’s testimony was a turning point in the landmark case Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the federal trial to overturn Proposition 8. Ryan took the stand to speak to the immutability of sexual orientation, living proof that you can’t “pray away the gay.” Our personal stories have power, and Ryan has become a powerful storyteller for the cause of LGBT equality.
Ryan’s testimony came straight from the heart, because he was subjected to “reparative therapy” beginning when he was just 14–when his evangelical Christian parents discovered he was gay. Read Ryan’s story here to learn more about what it means not only for marriage equality, but for all LGBT kids still suffering from bias and intolerance.
Ryan’s testimony in the Prop. 8 case was one of the most touching parts of the historic trial. Although video of the actual trial remains unavailable, Ryan’s moving words were retold on Broadway as part of Dustin Lance Black’s play, and recreated in this beautiful yet heartbreaking amateur video by everyday folks who were touched by his words enough to stage their own readings:
Ryan has gone on to share his story with CNN’s Anderson Cooper in the hope that others will not have to go through what he endured. Ryan has not just survived, but he is thriving–since the Prop. 8 trial he has gotten his life back on track and been admitted to Columbia University in New York. He plans to become a civil rights lawyer in order to continue his work speaking out on behalf of those who don’t have a voice. Ryan’s life itself is living proof that “It Gets Better,” and his example is an inspiration for queer youth and adults alike. For all that Ryan has done to overturn Prop. 8 and to advance LGBT equality everywhere, I nominate him as Queer of the Year.