They say you can't keep a good guy down, and things are definitely looking up for Seth Owen.
Owen sounds like every parent's dream. He graduated first in his class and is headed to Georgetown, one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Unfortunately, there's one thing about him his parents can't accept: he's gay. But that isn't stopping him.
Owen, of Jacksonville, Florida faced many gay people's worst nightmare when his father found photos of him and his boyfriend on his phone: he got shipped off to gay conversion camp, to receive "reparative therapy," a methodology regarded as dangerous and unethical by medical organizations like the American Psychiatric Association. The methodology is also illegal in many countries and some US States (Florida, unsurprisingly, is not among them).
As if that weren't bad enough, during his senior year, the church he and his parents attended switched pastors, and the new leader began preaching anti-LGBTQ sermons. For Seth, this was a breaking point, and his parents issued an ultimatum.
"I asked to go to a different church, and they said that I would either have to go with them or move out. And so I decided that day that I had to move out," Seth said. His parents also refused to pay his college tuition.
Seth spent the rest of his senior year couch surfing, and working to close the $20,000 financial aid gap before the start of his freshman year at Georgetown. His best friend's parents stepped in to help with the former, and a teacher started a GoFundMe for the latter, which raised over $100,000 in just two months.
But when news of his situation reached Georgetown, they gave him a full ride. So, Seth decided to use the GoFundMe cash to set up a scholarship fund for kids in similar situations to his. And that's where Ellen DeGeneres came in.
Tuesday, Seth was a guest on DeGeneres's show. After discussing his experience, Ellen surprised the teen with a $25,000 check for his scholarship fund, to Seth's shocked delight.
On social media, people were deeply moved by the story, sharing words of praise for Seth, Ellen and Georgetown:
Inspired by @Georgetown first-year student Seth Owen and @TheEllenShow who just sent a powerful pro-college, pro-lo… https://t.co/mwcapE3LtD— Dan Porterfield (@Dan Porterfield) 1536765741.0
So amazing. Love Ellen! And this kid is terrific and has the the right idea in life. Give back! Wow! 👏👏 https://t.co/RZtRAxHO3b— Joe Woolley (@Joe Woolley) 1536721266.0
Two great people! https://t.co/ZiB7hsM3YG— Kathryn Houston (@Kathryn Houston) 1536749944.0
This is beautiful! Thank you @TheEllenShow https://t.co/kgSvF0O8q8— AJ'sMom (@AJ'sMom) 1536701213.0
Kudos to Georgetown and Ellen. https://t.co/N5gO2nRZc5— Tony Wuersch (@Tony Wuersch) 1536767084.0
Love ❤️ @TheEllenShow for all the great things Ellen does and the good person that she is! https://t.co/sXSwubyRVw— 💧Simon 🏳️🌈🇦🇺 (@💧Simon 🏳️🌈🇦🇺) 1536706975.0
While others used their platform to stand up for Seth and criticize the abusive actions of Seth's parents:
https://t.co/ct502LChHx To his parents they are missing out on a GREAT SON🏳️🌈 by Listening to a IGNORANT PASTOR… https://t.co/0zJGPHuI5e— lawana gilbert- (@lawana gilbert-) 1536762286.0
“How can people be so heartless How can people be so cruel Easy to be hard Easy to be cold…” That by one of my… https://t.co/bwv7nQCREs— Colin Bent (@Colin Bent) 1536712929.0
Dear Parents of Seth Owen. THIS is how a Christian acts. Check with God. She'll back me up on this. #hope… https://t.co/sRSXrhDQJd— Eileen Dreyer (@Eileen Dreyer) 1536741907.0
And others found inspiration and hope for the future in Seth's strength:
Impressive resiliency. Imagine a world where "coming out" was obsolete. https://t.co/fc5xhQpJBr— Emily Hartley (@Emily Hartley) 1536712077.0
The strong bend not break and conquer on, what an incredible story https://t.co/WsOQX2WTis— thehenchmom (@thehenchmom) 1536710765.0
Rock on, Seth! Thanks for your bravery and integrity and showing IT GETS BETTER. And thank you, Ellen, as always. x… https://t.co/AkUqAUsQFD— Ellen Browne (@Ellen Browne) 1536755974.0
The moment took on even more significance in light of Seth's words about what Ellen meant to him during the worst moments of his senior year.
"When I was writing my papers at 2 a.m., I often had to look up your videos for inspiration," he told her. "There were so many times that you really pulled me through, so I really appreciate that."
Shut up YOU'RE crying.
Here's wishing Seth the best freshman year ever!