Jacob Rudolph, the New Jersey teen came out publicly to more than 300 classmates earlier this month, has a fan in Star Trek icon George Takei.
Rudolph appeared on Anderson Live, the syndicated daytime show hosted by Anderson Cooper, was on the show talking about his experience and mentioned that Takei was a real model from him.
‘Having grown up in the 50s as a Japanese gay man and then coming out and having such a wonderful success and becoming such an advocate, he’s an incredible person,’ Rudolph told Cooper and guest co-host Deborah Norville.
Since Cooper was already aware of his admiration for Takei, he arranged a surprise for Rudolph and had the actor and social media phenomenon walk out onto the stage.
Rudolph had sent the video of his coming out, which quickly went viral, to Takei along with a letter and the actor quickly shared it with his large online following.
‘I was bursting,’ Takei said. ‘I thought it as just a fantastic statement.’
Takei then said the Rudolph: ‘You are pulling at that wagon of equality with the rest of us so thank you very much for that. I’m very proud of you.’
Rudolph’s classmates gave the teen an enthusiastic standing ovation as he left the stage. Later, his proud father posted video of his son’s speech on YouTube with a written introduction which stated that his son’s decision to come out to the school took ‘more guts than anything I’ve ever attempted in my life.’
The video was shared by a gay friend of the father who sent it to Towleroad.com on Wednesday (23 January).
Below is the Anderson Live appearance as well as the original coming out video: