In October, Naples High senior Caitlin Crowley shared a photo of herself attending Homecoming with a male date during her freshman year, next to a photo from this year’s Homecoming, which she attended with her girlfriend. The caption read, “Freshman to senior year, does this count as a glo up???” reports Annika Hammerschlag in USA Today.
The post, which uses a common pun on the phrase “grow up” that usually refers to a child who grows into an attractive adult, quickly went viral. As of Nov. 1, the post has been retweeted over 36,000 times.
Hundreds of LGBTQ+ users were inspired by the post’s positive message about coming out. They posted their own side-by-side comparisons, with many of them using the hastag #GayGloUp and tagging Crowley in their posts.
Crowley says the experience has been “unbelievable and unexpected, but completely heartwarming and humbling.” Meanwhile, she has gotten private messages from other young LGBTQ+ people looking for advice on coming out, who she’s been happy to talk to.
Crowley was originally scared to come out herself, saying she “honestly never thought [she’d] be completely out” because of Naples’ conservative reputation.
However, as she says, “as with everything, it just takes time. But it gets better. It truly does get better, and you’re not alone.”
Encouragingly, Naple’s just had its first pride parade this year.
Read the USA Today story here.