Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns reaches out to GLBT teens with a personal story and a message of hope. For more coverage, visit the following links:
Here's his interview with MSNBC about his moving speech:
I was bullied from from the age of 12 until I was almost 18, when I graduated high school. My bullies not only bullied me during the school year, but they would torment me with vicious letters sent to me while I was away at summer camp. Not all, but most of the bullying was related to my being a "sissy," a "fag" or "queer." I used to plead with God to make them stop -- make me different from who I was -- in letters I would ritualistically burn to him from my building's rooftop. I often thought of killing myself, but I was too afraid to actually try. Instead, I turned to drugs & alcohol at a very young age. While there were other 'family issues' that helped drive me to them -- which is usually the focus of most of my unresolved anger -- the bullying was really what made me search out drugs & booze to help make me feel numb.
My family doesn't understand why I can't be in a room with certain people I grew up with -- like the worst of the bullies who basically destroyed my childhood. I'm told I should just 'get over it.' Anyone who has been bullied will understand that this is like asking a rape victim to 'get over' having to be in the same room as their rapist. I'm not saying my bullying is exactly the same as being rape, but what else can you compare having the innocent soul you were as a child stomped out my a handful of vicious, homophobic bullies too?
Joel Burns was very brave for putting himself out there like this. I hope his bravery, and his story, help some young me who happens to see this video, make the decision to stick around.