It started with an emotional 13-minute-long plea at a local council meeting in Fort Worth, Texas.
Councilman Joel Burns struggled to maintain his composure Wednesday as he shared his story about being gay and bullied as a child and how the recent rash of child suicides because of bullying has torn him apart.
That 13-minute plea caught national attention in part because of his brutal honesty. The video, which has gone viral on YouTube, has already amassed more than 540,000 page views and is being regarded on the web as one of the most emotional pleas about bullying children who are gay.
"I was cornered after school by some older kids who roughed me up," Burns said during the council meeting. "They said that I was a f**, and that I should die and go to Hell where I belonged."
Burns struggled to maintain his composure during that plea - his voice was quivering and at times he cried - but he continued on and in such a public forum, and in such a personal and blunt way continued to share his story. Burns told CNN in his first national interview Friday that he felt he had to say something because it was clear that not enough was being done to stem the crisis.
And as someone who dealt with the same issues, he wanted to share the advice he wished someone had told him as a child.
"The reality of it is, it gets better in ways you can never fathom as a 13- or 14-year-old. Times are dark, and you're either being harassed or bullied inside the school or outside the school. You have a household that may not accept you; there may be any kind of abuse around it," Burns told CNN. "There's just no hope that there's life after your adolescence and after your teenaged years. I have often thought, wouldn't it be wonderful if I could go back to the me that existed as a teenager that really didn't think that the future was all that bright at times, and show him just the amazing, wonderful things that have happened in the course of my adult life?"
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