At Tuesday night’s meeting, PFLAG recognized the recipient of their annual scholarship program, Mason Prince.
More from PFLAG Richmond’s Kenneth Decker:
Mason Prince, a 2011 graduate of Richmond’s Hermitage High School, is the recipient of the 3rd annual Richmond PFLAG scholarship. Created to encourage activism for and within the local and regional LGBTI community, this scholarship has found a worthy recipient in Mason.
Mason’s extracurricular activities include: Color Guard; Art Club; Psychology Society; Gay Straight Alliance and Independent Art Student. Attesting to his skill in these endeavors, Mason has been named Best Marcher, Best of Flag Line and Most Charismatic during band. An honor student, Mason was also recognized as the volunteer team leader.
Involvement in the broader community on Mason’s part (both as a function of school activities as well as his own initiative) is abundant, including service to ROSMY (especially the group’s YEL program), GCCR, The Arthritis Foundation, Alzheimer’s Association, VA Pride and the VA Vegetarian Association.
Finding the Hermitage High School GSA leadership to be apathetic, Mason challenged the standing order, insisted upon democratic elections and created positive change in his newly-elected position of Events Coordinator. As part of his GSA work, Mason became involved with VA Pride; in that role, he tended to the needs of vendors, offered help to pedestrians and informed participants and attendees of the various goings on at the festival. With GCCR, Mason volunteered in a variety of roles with the bingo games fund-raising initiative. Significantly, neither Mason nor his school’s GSA personally benefited in any material way from these volunteer efforts.
Mason actually came out twice, initially as bisexual in his native community of Waynesboro, VA., while still in middle school; in retrospect, he feels he should have come out as questioning. After moving to Richmond, to live with his aunt following his mother’s passing, Mason came out as gay at Hermitage High School.
The second time, the transition was more difficult, as Mason suffered serious self-doubt, fueled by internalized homophobia. After several months of asking God to change him, i.e., “make him straight”. Mason realized it was in fact God who had made him gay and he’s since come to rejoice in that knowledge. Mason credits his best friend, John Wade Waldrop (who had previously come out as gay) with helping him through this difficult period.
Once Mason was fully comfortable with his identity, he and John (who was elected Vice President of Hermitage High School’s GSA) set out on a mission to revitalize their school’s Gay Straight Alliance, creating a sea change in the overall climate in the process. (Among John Wade Waldrop’s accomplishments is creating and editing Gay Today, Hermitage High School’s biweekly gay info newspaper).
Mason has a distinct career path in mind; in college he plans to major in Psychology and minor in Criminology, with the goal of a career in forensic psychology, specifically with the FBI. Following this, he’ll pursue his doctorate in psychology, then open his own counseling business, before going on to social work. Mason’s intended field of specialization in social work is a focus on youth who’ve been turned away from home due to parents/guardians apprehensions about sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.