Gay High School Senior Speaks Out About 'Nazi Salute' Prom Pic
Yesterday, Instinct reported on the prom photo that went viral from Baraboo school district in Wisconsin.
The photo appeared to show about 30 male members of the Baraboo High School Class of 2019 giving the Nazi salute before their junior prom last spring.
The photo, taken on the Sauk County Courthouse steps, includes nearly 50 male students, though not all are holding their arms outstretched.
As noted yesterday, one student was not having the moment.
Eighteen-year-old Jordan Blue can be seen in the top right of the photo with his arms down, his face showing only a neutral expression while most of his classmates are pictured laughing.
CBS This Morning spoke with Blue about the internet controversy.
The high school senior tells CBS This Morning the photographer came up with the idea of telling the boys to "wave goodbye to their parents," but didn't specifically tell the boys to “raise your hand in a Nazi symbol way.”
It's interesting that 'raise you hand' to these young men meant doing so in Nazi fashion.
Blue added that he felt his classmates did understand what the symbol represented, and that the moment was "scary" and "uncomfortable."
Photographer Peter Gust has issued a statement which reads, "I didn't tell them to salute anything... it was waving goodbye to their parents, having a good time."
"There was nothing that diminished the quality of anyone's life," said Gust in defense of the photo. "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."
Blue admits making the gesture makes no sense to him, saying, "Some of these people have bright futures ahead of them, so why’d they do it?”
Speaking to CNN, Blue says if he'd known the direction the photo opp would go, he wouldn't have taken part in the pics at all.
“I knew what my morals were, and it was not to salute something I firmly didn’t believe in,” he said.
He also says that while the community is a 'phenomenal' place to live, people are "hurt and very distraught" over the scandal. And he makes a point to say the photo doesn't represent Baraboo as a whole.
Suzdaltsev later tweeted that, after receiving more than 100 messages from students and parents from Baraboo High School, "nearly all of the stories echo the same basic theme: the community as a whole has a lot of casual & jokey racism, homophobia, and transphobia that is accepted as a part of life."
"The school (and other schools in the area) do little to nothing to address these issues," he added.
The American Defamation League reports the number of anti-semitic incidents in the U.S. rose 57% in 2017. That's the largest single year increase on record.
I spoke with the only student who is visibly not comfortable with the “salute”, he provided this statement. pic.twitter.com/HbNBc8xLOK
— Jules Suzdaltsev (@jules_su) November 12, 2018
after watching @lovesimonmovie i think my mom has a better understanding of who i am
— jordan blue (@jtbluee) March 27, 2018
it’s okay to be different
— jordan blue (@jtbluee) March 11, 2018