The Indiana teenager seen on video punching another student who had taunted him with anti-LGBTQ slurs is now urging his social media supporters not to direct their anger at his classmate.
Jordan Steffy, a junior at LaPorte High School in LaPorte, Indiana, opened up about the viral incident in a Thursday appearance on “The Tamron Hall Show.” He told the host that he confronted his classmate, who he didn’t know personally, after discovering that student had posted a Snapchat photo of him with a homophobic message.
“I didn’t know his name,” Steffy said. “I kind of saw [him] as a familiar face, kind of blended into the crowd … I had walked into the class, and I had the post already on my phone because I was going to ask him why he posted it.”
Acknowledging that he was the one who shoved his classmate first, Steffy said the fight was his breaking point after having been repeatedly bullied for being gay.
“It was years and years over, built up,” he said.
The video, which Steffy posted to his Twitter account Nov. 8, has been viewed more than 3 million times. In it, he can be seen repeatedly punching the student he says created the homophobic Snapchat image in a classroom as classmates look on from their desks.
Watch the video below. WARNING: Contains graphic language.
Although the alleged Snapchat image is not shown, Steffy’s classmate can be repeatedly heard calling Steffy a “faggot” throughout the clip.
Both Steffy and the other student were suspended from school over the incident. Steffy’s mother, Angie Bush, said her son will now be home schooled.
LaPorte High School officials did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment on the video. The school posted a Nov. 11 letter sent by Principal Ben Tonagel to parents that said “the matter was addressed immediately” and that an investigation was continuing.
“Getting all the facts associated with the concern is important,” Tonagel added.
After Steffy posted the video, he was praised on social media by “Pose” star Billy Porter and drag icon Miss Coco Peru, among others.
“I am def always against violence of any kind, but this video felt cathartic,” fashion designer Prabal Gurung wrote on Facebook. “I too should have been like this dude who fought back and slapped the shit out of those homophobic demons back when I was growing up.”
“This baby slapped him with the hands of Harvey Milk and EVERY ancestor at Stone Wall,” another person wrote on Twitter.
Others, however, were more critical.
“These brawling students were both white and male,” author Richard Morgan wrote Tuesday in a Washington Post op-ed. “Who knows what Twitter would’ve made of the same fight playing out across other permutations of race and gender?”
Speaking to Hall, however, Steffy urged his supporters to lay off the “negativity and negative comments” directed at his classmate.
“I have no idea what’s going on in his life, as he has no idea what’s going on in mine,” Steffy said. “I can’t hold what he said accountable against him, because I don’t know how he was raised. … I don’t know if it was a heat-of-the-moment thing. I don’t know if it was what he truly believes in.”