AC360° Digital Producer
New York (CNN) – In an exclusive interview that will air Wednesday on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360°, college student Chris Armstrong said the recent rash of headlines about gay teens who have committed suicide has motivated him to break his silence about his own experience of being targeted online.
For months, Armstrong has been the subject of the blog “Chris Armstrong Watch” which is published by Andrew Shirvell, a lawyer in the Michigan attorney general’s office; Shirvell and Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox have both maintained that the blog is a personal project of Shirvell’s done during non-work hours and without any official resources.
Armstrong, a college senior, is University of Michigan’s first openly gay student body president, and Shirvell is an alum of the university who has taken issue with what Shirvell calls Armstrong’s “radical homosexual agenda.”
After his blog garnered national media attention in the past week, Shirvell placed it behind a privacy firewall, making it only available to invited readers. The lawyer, who is an assistant Michigan attorney general, has also taken a voluntary leave of absence from his state job, according to the Michigan AG’s office. Shirvell has also been barred from University of Michigan’s campus, and Armstrong is seeking a personal protection order against Shirvell.
In his first national interview about the situation, the college student told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that he did not ask to be the subject of Shirvell’s attention on- and offline. But Armstrong said he has decided to use the spotlight to try to reach other gay teens who may be going through something similar.
“Given what’s happened in the past week, and given the suicides that have happened in the past few weeks, it’s been, it’s been – it’s hard not to say something,” Armstrong explained.
He added, “I felt like it was important for me to speak out as well just because I think that it’s important for them to understand that things can get better. And it’s important to know you can reach out in your community, you can reach out to friends and they can support you.”
In his sit-down with Cooper, Armstrong also discusses whether he’d ever met Shirvell previously, how Armstrong feels about Shirvell’s efforts to target some of Armstrong’s friends and Armstrong’s reaction to being branded a radical activist by Shirvell.
Tune into AC360° tonight on CNN beginning at 10 p.m. ET to watch more of Armstrong’s exclusive interview.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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