October 15th, 2010
08:26 PM ET

Councilman's emotional plea about gay bullying goes viral

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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soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Samuel DuBois

    Any adult who listens to Joel’s comments and has a derogatory response must ask them self what it is they find objectionable about them self that would motivate them to feel that hurting someone will somehow make them feel better. The youth who bully are imitating adults. We are all teachers, knowingly or unknowingly. However one feels about this issue we must accept our responsibility to behave, to teach, in ways that will cause no harm including the unexpected results of having our children deliberately cause stress and pain to other children. It is an adult problem. Thank you Joel to calling us to face reality.

    October 16, 2010 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Lisababy

    We are not applauding his immorality as one might say we are applauding his courage to step up in front of a world full of haters and make his point which is entirely valid hatred is a toxic disease its pointless and ugly and needs to be dealt with maybe some medication for mike and his bad vibe brethren is there a rock big enough hide yours under mike

    October 16, 2010 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jerry

    and yet a person comes out and say that they are a born again christian he is a heratic goes to show how imoral our society is today

    October 16, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Chesterfield Father

    As the father of a gay son and "father-in-law to his partner, this man should be considered for a Nobel Peace prize for it indeed calls us to be more peaceful in our lives. Thank you Joel Burns.

    October 16, 2010 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
  5. margaret

    Thankyou Mr Joel Burn's, what a heartfelt speach, I still have tear's in my eye's. I hope every person that is fortunate enough to publicly speak, to get this message from Joel out to everyone. Parent's and educator's also need to educate children to stop the bullying, we need to have bully's brought to justice for there action's, not swept under the carpet, yet again. Once again thankyou Joel.

    October 17, 2010 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  6. Reynardine Greencastle

    Kids can be bullied for this and other "reasons". They're too young; they're too short; they're too fat; they're developing too soon or too late; they said something gauche or made a harmless mistake or a parent did something publicly mortifying or they got crossways of a mean clique or they're just not cool- it doesn't matter. Once they're targets, that's what they'll stay as long as they're in the same milieu, and if that is for very long, they may develop that unconscious "flinch" that other bullies pick up on down the line. If you see it happening, cut it short. If you're a victim, remember that not everyone is a cretin, and that this situation is like sea-sickness: however endlessly nauseating and nauseatingly endless it seems, you'll reach shore one day, as long as you don't throw yourself overboard in despair.

    October 17, 2010 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Frank

    Wow people are so soft and sensitive these days. Pathetic

    October 17, 2010 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JESUS

    "Whatever you do to the least of my brothers & sisters you do unto me". Joel....thank you for your message of love and tolerance. Odd that the folks that so loudly proclaim to be Christian are so often hateful; and those considered outcasts and sinners are more often Christ like – and the one's Jesus most often calls to be his apostles. Christians, perhaps you might get to know your own Christ. (Matt, Mark, Luke & John) He was a very passive and a bleeding heart LIBERAL! The modern right-winger would crucify Jesus again and brand him a socialist.

    October 19, 2010 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mark

    Bravo

    October 16, 2010 at 1:58 am | Report abuse |
  10. Kevin

    your heart is very small ,sir. i pray for you.

    October 16, 2010 at 3:05 am | Report abuse |
  11. Mike

    Please crawl under a rock and stay there

    October 16, 2010 at 7:49 am | Report abuse |
  12. Austin Texas Sense

    Mike, there's not enough room, you're already taking up all that space under any rock. Wow

    October 16, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
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