Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns says
his speech to troubled gay teens considering taking their lives moved
a conservative councilor and has already saved lives.
At a city council meeting, the lawmaker
became emotional as he talked about his own experience growing up
gay. He suggested that he had once considered taking his own life to
escape the taunting and bullying of classmates and urged troubled
teens to hang in there.
“Yes, high school was difficult.
Coming out was painful. But life got so much better for me. And I
want to tell any teen who might see this: Give yourself a chance to
see just how much better life will be. And it will get better.”
A video of his moving 12-minute speech,
embedded in the right panel of this page, was posted on YouTube and
has been viewed more than a half-million times.
In an appearance on CBS' the Early
Show on Saturday Morning, Burns said he's been surprised by some
of the reactions.
One council member “in his late 70s,
very, very conservative. He and I don't always see eye-to-eye on
certain things. And, at the end of my talk, he was crying and he
hugged me, and that was a nice feeling.”
“I have talked to a number of teens
on the phone,” he said. “I gave out my phone number during that
speech, and I've gotten something like 800 phone calls since. I've
had to enlist an army of friends and family to help volunteer to make
sure the calls get answered.”
Burns added that he's spoken to some
teens that have told him that they were considering ending their