A transgender activist who made headlines last year when he was crowned homecoming king at his Charlotte, North Carolina, high school has died.
Local paper The Charlotte Observer initially reported that Blake Brockington, 18, died Monday in an apparent suicide. The news was confirmed to The Huffington Post by Time Out Youth Center, a local LGBT support center where Brockington was a client.
"He was seen as a leader in the LGBT movement and social justice movement," said Rodney Tucker, executive director at the center. "We are all in shock and grieving here."
Brockington made history last year when he became the first transgender homecoming king in North Carolina.
"Throughout my life, I haven't really been treated equally as a male, so I've always wanted this, always, and everybody has always told me I couldn't do it," he told a local NBC affiliate at the time. "Even though you go through some things, and you have some negative encounters in your life, anything is possible, you can do anything you set your heart to."
Brockington, who said he "always felt male," came out to the public as transgender in the 10th grade.
He spoke eloquently about his struggles to be accepted by friends and family in a story published in January by the Observer, and he urged other trans youth to reach out for support.
"I would love for a lot of the trans youth to know that they are not alone and this is a large community," he said in a video accompanying the article.
Brockington also described the toll that online comments had on him after he won homecoming king.
"That was single-handedly the hardest part of my trans journey," he said. "Really hateful things were said on the Internet. It was hard. I saw how narrow-minded the world really is."
Watch Brockington speak after being crowned homecoming king:
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. LGBT youth can also reach out to The Trevor Project Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386.