Atlanta | Education | Gay Youth | Reuben Lack

Reuben Lack And His Attorney Overwhelmed By Media Attention; Remain Resolute


Yesterday, Andy told the story of Reuben Lack, the student council president of Atlanta's Alpharetta High School, who was allegedly removed from the presidency after he proposed making prom more gay-friendly. (He intended to alter the rules of Prom King- and Queen-ship so that LGBT folk might be eligible.) Lack was, and is, suing Alpharetta over the matter.

Andy wasn't the only one reporting the story. It's been all over the web and the television and the presses, and it's come as a bit of a shock to Alpharetta, Lack, and Lack's attorney -- a Mr. James Radford, who has now posted a plea for sanity to his website: 

Did we predict [Reuben's story] would explode the way it has? Not in my wildest imagination.

I have no “PR Department,” no formal means of publicity. I don’t even have a secretary. I am a one-man show, having been a solo practitioner for less than 6 weeks at the time this story broke. I issued a short statement on my blog, including a copy of the complaint and our motion for injunction. I contacted two Atlanta-area TV reporters who I knew personally, because I thought they might be interested in the story. And Reuben’s family and friends shared my blog post on Facebook.

Within 48 hours, we were being contacted by the Associated Press, Reuters, LGBT publications throughout the country, XM satellite radio, and the list goes on. The story went international. I was personally overwhelmed with media inquiries, and also messages of support. We tried to accommodate the media requests as best as possible, and gave interviews to three local news stations, the Georgia Voice, and the reporter from AP.

This was initially very exciting. But the story may have gotten too big, too fast, and I believe the students, faculty, and administration at Alpharetta High School have found themselves overwhelmed. I know Reuben and his family have felt overwhelmed. Reuben is just a kid who wants to finish his term of class president, something that is very important to him, and something that he earned through his own hard work and persistence.

But as Lack's story gained media traction, some claimed otherwise: That Lack had been removed from his position due to poor leadership and general flakiness. As Mr. Ratford notes, this seems unlikely: The school administration never griped about Lack until he tried to make prom more gay-friendly.

Nevertheless, Lack's got a lot of enemies in his school, and they're vicious. They've been throwing invective all over Twitter, making fun of Lack's backpack (it apparently has rollers; hashtags such as "#rollingbackpackboyprobz" and "#ihopereubensbackpackgetsaflat" are common) and his alleged sexuality and/or lack of intelligence ("f*** reuben and his gay ass. he is stupid as f***"), and braying homophobic nonsense in a way that suggests nobody's told Atlanta's children that they will one day have HR professionals picking through their internet histories. ("If Reuben Lack is reinstated as student council president I'm dropping out. I don't want to see a guy in a tiara win prom queen.") Mr. Ratford features all of this ugliness and more on his website, which will hopefully serve as notice to somebody. Young Alpharettans may be too stupid to know it, but when your bullying tweets are republished by an angry attorney, the situation has become serious. 

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  1. I see ignorance is alive and well in Georgia! Oh wait, isnm't that where Newt is from? One day they will learn, but then it will be too late.

    Posted by: Randy | Mar 24, 2012 5:59:20 PM

  2. Reuben and James, u r good guys. Stay focused like ur and kick a**. Get 'em! :-).

    Posted by: just_a_guy | Mar 24, 2012 6:00:53 PM

  3. It may well be time to begin warehousing the multitude of vicious anti-gay tweets, FB taunts, etc. The Internet has a long memory, and when these ignorant souls go out into the world to seek their fortunes, it will be sweet justice to splay their hateful words onto the world stage for all to see.

    Posted by: Notkony | Mar 24, 2012 6:05:26 PM

  4. Does anyone else hear banjo music underscoring this story? The South is America's anus.

    Posted by: Wavin' Dave | Mar 24, 2012 6:10:01 PM

  5. An idea whose time has come: data archives for anti-gay internet hate. You should include as much identifying information as there was in the original.

    Posted by: Artie_in_Lauderdale | Mar 24, 2012 6:16:54 PM

  6. "I see ignorance is alive and well in Georgia! Oh wait, isnm't that where Newt is from?"

    Yeah, it's also where Reuben is from.
    Any comment on the long term gay couple beaten in the French Quarter of New Orleans who are moving out of the city after 20 years for their safety - to Oklahoma?

    "Ignorance is alive and well" everywhere. Where is your Gay Utopia?

    Posted by: MarkUs | Mar 24, 2012 6:42:28 PM

  7. Instead of taking the usual pot-shots at the folks Down South, let's stop for a moment and consider whether anything can be done to prevent a major tragedy?

    This is exactly the sort of thing which escalates into physical violence.

    I am not saying they should back down, absolutely not. It is, however, important to accept that we are in a time when the christians realize they are losing the fight to impose their hateful regime on all of us. This means any victory, any measure which expands American principles of equality will lead them to react with maximum violence.
    I'm worried about Reuben. We can't expect the christians running his school to do anything, but maybe there's someone in Atlanta politics who can?

    Posted by: enough already | Mar 24, 2012 6:56:56 PM

  8. Reuben, fight this tooth and nail. You are in the right. After you win, which you will, then get the hell out of that dumb-ass State.

    Posted by: Oliver | Mar 24, 2012 7:02:48 PM


    PLEASE EVERYONE READ THIS POST. ^ This is the other side of the story from several kids from our school. Reuben's claims are false and he is putting our nationally ranked school and outstanding faculty in a very bad light. Alpharetta is not full of backwards, confederate hicks. We are arguably the most liberal city in Georgia. He wasn't fired over the prom idea, he was fired for his poor leadership and his inability to follow student council guidelines and procedures. The prom idea was shot down because our school doesn't elect couples, we elect individuals to king and queen and EVERYONE has a chance. It's not like the king and queen are supposed to be dating, they just win the title of most liked girl and boy of the class.

    Posted by: Lyndsey | Mar 24, 2012 7:20:14 PM

  10. Shooting down the prom ide is one thing, Lyndsey. Takign away Lack's presidency is quite another. Your "nationally ranked school" and it's "outstanding faculty" put THEMSELVES in a bad light. Not Mr. Lack.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Mar 24, 2012 7:44:47 PM

  11. @ LYNDSEY :

    Then why not follow Reuben's idea, and call the winners "most liked persons".....

    What's with the faux hetro faux royalty ?

    The two most liked persons could be anybody .....what's wrong with this "natiolally ranked " school ?

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Mar 24, 2012 8:06:14 PM

  12. High school student body president. Is it a elected position? It seems to be a position appointed by school administration. Have I read something wrong?
    Is it a high school in the US or Georgia in Eastern Europe.

    Posted by: simon | Mar 24, 2012 8:07:19 PM

  13. We can read the "enlightened liberal tweets" from your "most liberal city in Georgia," and we know what you and your snot-nosed homophobic horde are about. Trying to change the issue is baloney, and trying to hide your hatred behind defamatory comments about the president of your class (who was popularly elected) isn't going to get us to stop pointing out the obvious -- you're a bunch of haters.

    Posted by: Go home, Lyndsey | Mar 24, 2012 8:18:20 PM

  14. Unfortunately, we're seeing the realities of being gay in an anti-gay culture. Of course, now fellow students and parents are making statements saying that Alpharetta isn't an anti-gay area (and what's funny is, I have a friend, who is gay, who moved from the area to VA a few years ago. The things he said about his former residence weren't kind), slandering Reuben's name WITHOUT concrete facts, and ganging up on and making fun of Rueben.

    Reuben is a brave kid. This is someone who isn't going to take homophobia lying down and is standing up for his freedoms. I'm glad he recognizes he has millions of people across the world in support of him with watchful eyes and willing to do what is needed to help Reuben in this situation but also understand why he would feel overwhelmed. This is what makes homophobia such a travesty, kids like Reuben simply want to be able to live their lives as they see fit and simply want things to be fair and equal for all, but because of anti-gay bigotry, that is not made possible for them. Hopefully everything works out for Reuben in the end and his parents and friends protect him from the onslaught of disgusting hatred he's already facing and will continue to face going forward as long as he remains in Alpharetta.

    Posted by: Francis | Mar 24, 2012 8:23:27 PM

  15. My gut feeling is Reuben isn't being completely honest. I'd rather wait and see what the facts are before making a judgment on it. IF Reuben is telling the truth then the school needs to pay, however if Reuben is using this as an excuse while actually being guilty of what the school is accusing him of doing then he's just a pr!ck.

    Posted by: Michael | Mar 24, 2012 8:29:40 PM


    His presidency wasn't taken away because of his prom proposal. He is making it seem that way so that he will have more national support. He got fired for disrespecting our principal and her authority. he felt that he had more authority over the student council than her and that he could fire people that he didn't like. This is also not the first time that he has sued someone because he didn't get his way. He sued the Fulton County Youth Commission for rejecting his application. The commission thought it was silly and immature of him but didn't want a scandal so they gave in, but our school and its faculty is much more resilient. Reuben is not who you think he is. Even his friends don't support him on this.


    What a nice name. Those individuals who tweeted about him are very opinionated and tend to say what they want without fearing consequence. They were simply showing their outrage over how this story could get so much national attention. Also, there were maybe a dozen of people tweeting like that, our school is made up of well over 2,400 students and most of them chose to word their opinions more wisely and rationally. The isolated tweets that Radford has screenshots of are examples of teens being teens, they tend to hype up an issue through social media.

    Posted by: Lyndsey | Mar 24, 2012 8:32:41 PM

  17. @ Michael

    That is the kind of open-minded attitude that people need to have towards the news. You need both sides of the story to have a clear prospective. All these articles are one sided because both our principal and all of our staff are not allowed to talk about this issue, but we did get an e-mail from Principal Kersey a few hours ago addressing the false reports on sites like Courthouse News Service.

    Posted by: Lyndsey | Mar 24, 2012 8:40:58 PM

  18. I've lived here in the Alpharetta area for four years, and we have never had any issues, either as a couple, or as a family with two kids in the school system. I do not think there is nearly enough information for anyone to say definitavely whether this student is right or wrong. What I do know is that this is the same county that gave me custody of my kids over my ex-wife, and that we have lived in this community in peace. I will follow this story closely, but it seems there is alot more than the media has stated.

    Posted by: Todd | Mar 24, 2012 8:59:11 PM

  19. The regionalists on here make me nauseous. I've lived in every section of this country and have yet to find a perfectly integrated corner. Grow up.

    Posted by: DAVID | Mar 24, 2012 9:07:05 PM

  20. Randy,

    Name a state that doesn't have ignorance or a politician similar to Newt Gingrich. California is full of it/them. Massachusetts is famous for it/them.

    How many high schools did you go to which elected an openly gay classmate to head the student council?

    Posted by: David Hearne | Mar 24, 2012 9:08:39 PM

  21. I think it should stay prom king and prom queen, just have them both open to both sexes.

    As far as this case goes, I hope the guy wins and gets back his seat.

    Posted by: intristin | Mar 24, 2012 9:14:33 PM

  22. "He got fired for disrespecting our principal and her authority" That says it all. The principal is like the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the former Soviet Union. He or she can remove any elected official without going through any democratic process. It is like Obama has the authority to fire a governor.

    Posted by: simon | Mar 24, 2012 9:30:30 PM

  23. Alpharetta may be a lot of things, wealthy namely, but is not at all liberal, let alone the most liberal city in Georgia. What an absolutely laughable claim! N. Fulton is blood red. But I do have to say that the typical south bashing is rather unwarranted as Alpharetta and its neighbors are composed mainly of northern transplants. These conservatives aren't even native grown!

    Posted by: Waybig | Mar 24, 2012 10:21:37 PM

  24. It's clear that all the facts may not have been fleshed out. But despite what you're saying Lindsey, the fact that the school is slandering him by calling him "lazy" and a "poor leader" doesn't look great for Alpharetta. The school administration is going after a high school kid, who appears to be anything but lazy: he ran for student government (and won), is involved in county politics it seems, is the captain of the debate team, and so on.
    Moreover, defending the hateful comments made by his HS classmates (replete with slurs such as "faggot") cannot be defended as "teens being teens." And that attitude of complacency, and tolerance of bigotry, appears to be exactly the problem at Lack's high school.

    Posted by: Jason | Mar 25, 2012 12:04:35 AM

  25. @Lyndsey:

    I understand you are not a fan of Lack, but it is only fair that if you mention a prior lawsuit against the Fulton County Youth Commission that you also say what the claim was. Lack couldn't just sue because someone rejected his application. He would have had to allege some violation of law. If you won't tell us what his claim was, we can hardly believe you when you insinuate that the claim lacked merit.

    I have seen video of this kid and he seems very impressive, mature and well-spoken. The fact that he was sensitive to the status of gay students in his school speaks well of him.

    He clearly is ambitious and sees himself as a youth leader, which I see as a good thing. This is also probably why he could not take his removal from office lying down. Absent some new facts that undermine his claim, I wish him well. I expect that we will be seeing more of him in the years and decades to come.

    Posted by: Gus | Mar 25, 2012 3:45:23 AM

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