Despite the progress made by and for the LGBTQ community in recent years, people of this demographic can still face extreme adversity even in the most accepting parts of the world. Just yesterday, for example, actor Jussie Smollett was harmed in a homophobic attack, and, earlier this month, the White House announced that it was continuing with its plans to ban transgender people from serving in the military.
With all these negative things happening for queer people, then, it's refreshing to hear some positive news.
Students of Hingham Middle School in Hingham, Massachusetts, brought tears to their teacher's eyes earlier this month when they performed a song they'd been secretly rehearsing for his upcoming wedding. Christopher Landis, the school's choir director, was in the middle of his wedding rehearsal to his now-husband, Joe Michienzie, when he was surprised by dozens of his students singing a rendition of The Beatles' All You Need is Love.
Speaking to the Huffington Post, Landis said that he was initially a little confused when he saw a number of guests with video cameras, but his bemusement quickly turned to joy when he realised what was going on.
"I saw the first student come in and I was like, ‘Oh my goodness,’ but I don’t think it hit me until all of these students came in and they were smiling and all dressed up," he said. "Then I started crying and they started crying."
The teacher was especially touched by the gesture as, though he has worked at Hingham for six years, he had always referred to Michienzie as his "friend", rather than his partner or fiance. He wasn't sure how his students would react to him being in a same-sex relationship, and thought it would be safer to keep the information to himself.
When some of the students found out that Landis was getting married though, two of the mothers of pupils from the choir decided to organise the surprise for the teacher before his special day.
The footage of the performance has since been viewed almost a million times on Facebook, and has attracted thousands of supportive comments from people who support equal rights.
"Awe! My favorite part though is at the end when, with so much pride, he announces “these are my kids!” So amazing," wrote one person.
"Just when you start believing the world is full of hate, amazing kids, teachers and parents blow you away," said another. "Congrats Mr Landis and Joe!"
Speaking to the New York Times, one of the organisers, Margit Foley, said: "He’s the best teacher, and he’s got this great energy, and he makes every school function fun."
What's more, now that Landis' happy relationship is public knowledge, he says he's not afraid to mention his husband anymore.
"There might be a student in that choir that could be struggling at home [or] at school," he said. "To see the love that was in that room lets them know that everything’s going to be OK."
Congratulations to the happy couple, and thank you for showing us that love should always be celebrated in any form.