Saturday, 16 October 2010

Joel Burns Tell His Story: It Gets Better

It has been a crazy couple of weeks as we’ve uncovered the terrible news of teenagers across America that have taken their own lives because of bullying.   The video above is an incredible and passionate speech by Fort Worth city councilman Joel Burns about the bullying that he encountered as a gay teen and how it does get better.  Wearing a pink shirt in aid of breast cancer awareness, Burns explains that this is the first time he has ever told the story of his bullying and near-suicide to anyone.  Almost a million people have watched this video since it was uploaded on Joel’s YouTube channel just three days ago and many people have posted it across Twitter and Facebook daring others to try watch it without breaking down crying.

I found it incredibly difficult to watch as it unexpectedly touched a very deep nerve within me.  After moving to South Africa from England at the age of 9, I was subject to relentless bullying that lasted until I moved to high school at the age of 12.  There was no ‘reason’ for my bullying other than the fact that I was different and foreign but I began to make serious and concrete plans for suicide by the age of 11.  That first year of high school was still hard but by the end of that year I began to make friends and am still friends with them to this day.  I absolutely agree sympathise with Joel as it is never easy to tell you parents that yes, you contemplated suicide but the fact is that we need to be open.  We need to tell people, no matter how it might hurt them, that the successful, happy, vivacious person standing before them was once on the verge of ending it all.  With this openness, perhaps we can move on and communicate to the children of today that it gets better.

You can see more videos from the It Gets Better Project or visit The Trevor Project for more information about suicide prevention amongst LGBT teens.

Trevor Project banner



  1. i couldn't stop from crying after reading this. thanks for posting it. Godspeed!

    (hope you don't mind but i tweeted this link to my followers.)

  2. "A Passion To Understand" has been included in this weeks A Sunday Drive. I hope this helps to attract even more new visitors here.

  3. Truly compassionate insights. More power to you always!

  4. What a crazy world we live in. Something needs to be done to stop this maddness from carrying on and more lifes being desroyed.

  5. Everyone needs to be educated on this subject, although I was never a victim of bullying I did see it going on at my school. My son started primary in August, we are lucky that that his school has a fantastic parent teacher association.

  6. I have a gay brother. Since he was as young as 10, we noticed the femininity of his actions. But in our family, he is accepted and understood. This way, he is very open to all of us whenever he is bullied by other kids in school..
    Very touching post. Thanks.

  7. @ Mama Mia: I don't mind! In fact, I greatly appreciate it!

    @ FishHawk: Thank you! So kind of you!

    @ Dempsey: I agree. Very touching.

    @ the Scribe: Thank you!

    @ William: You are right. Is it just me or have people become less tolerant in recent years?

    @ Ryan: I am glad to see that you are a good parent! Just remember always though, the kids you need to watch out for are often on the sidelines. My parents never went to PTA meetings.

    @ Farah: That is great! How lovely that he has the supprot of his family.


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