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It gets better

On October 12th, City Councilman Joel Burns, addressed the Fort Worth City Council, and any parents and youth that might be watching the broadcast with a message that was close to his heart: to the young people who may be facing bullying because they are different, hang in there, “it gets better”.

He began his address with a review of the recent spate of suicides that have been a result of bullying of teens who were perceived to be gay or lesbian. One by one, the Council heard the stories young teens who have taken their lives recently because of bullying: Asher Brown (13 years old), Billy Lucas (15 years old), Justin Aaberg (15 years old), Seth Walsh (13 years old), and finally Zach Harrington (19 years old), who hung himself after attending a City Council meeting. Already, the passionate words of the Councilman were moving to hear in highlighting the important issue of bullying that needs to be addressed. Then in a courageous move, he started to share his own personal story of bullying and coming to terms with his sexual orientation. The speech he gave to the City Council would be the first time he had ever spoken of certain events and reflections of his life, and in those tearful moments, he held captive all who were listening… and all who would come to listen to his address.

In this bold move, Joel has since touched the lives of countless people worldwide. I can only imagine how hard it was to take that risk to say the words he did. However, I do feel that it’s because of the authenticity and courage that fueled Joel’s words that created the powerful result that it did. His words and his tears connected with people. It moved them. The broadcast of his statement in Fort Worth, Texas was posted on YouTube and as of this last Thursday overtook two million views. He has become a viral sensation and his story has been picked up by media all over the world. More importantly, his message reached teens who have come forward to write to him about their experiences and how his story helped them to carry on.

Since Joel’s video, other videos have also been produced and posted, and the “It Gets Better Project” has received much more awareness and attention. More recently, people such as President Obama, Hilary Clinton, and even a group of Google employees have also taken up the cause to post videos on the subject.

President Obama’s video is below.

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