Joel Burns Tells Gay Teens “It Gets Better” – Reaction Video
In this video, Joel Burns, a city councilman in Fort Worth, Texas, recounts the hazards that come from gay bullying, and covers every prominent recent gay teenager who was bullied to the point of suicide. He proceeds to then provide encouraging words to gay teenagers, telling them that no matter what bullying they may endure right now, they will find a way to survive and live, as well as be accepted. He asks for them to hold on through the pain, as it will get better; he also urges those who are doing the harassing to be more tolerant. Joel Burns recounts his own story of coming out in a small Texan town; emotionally, he tells of the times when he got through his own bullying experiences and rejection by friends and family to find his husband and become accepted by his father.
The primary point of this paper is that, despite the difficulties that gay teenagers face due to bullying and discrimination from their peers, gays must give themselves the chance to see what life is like in the future, and to not give up, because it gets better. Also, Burns calls for an end to bullying and discrimination because someone is or even seems gay. I feel very closely tied to this issue, because I am very passionate about civil rights issues. Currently, homosexuals are the second class citizen du jour, with many groups and individuals making fun of and discriminating against them, even forbidding them from getting legally married. What’s more, the lack of cultural acceptance of gays, combined with the cruelty that often comes along with childhood lack of accountability, makes being a teenager a very cruel environment for those who are misunderstood or different. Burns begs for the suicides to stop, as well they should; children should not be forced into this situation by feeling they have no other way out. With Burns making these statements, he is attempting to show other kids who are going through a similar thing that it is possible to weather the storm and end up a happy, loved person like he is – while there is no point to all the suffering, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
If I were to ask Burns three questions, I would ask him the following: 1) How did you reconcile being gay with living in a small Texas town? He would likely respond that it was difficult, but he did not shy away from who he was. 2) What would he personally say to the kids who have killed themselves because of gay bullying? He would probably say that “it doesn’t have to end this way – you will find so much happiness once you are out of your home environment.” 3) What can a bullied child do to withstand the pain of adolescent bullying? “Stay true to yourself, don’t take it personally, and look to the future.”
In conclusion, I agree with Burns’ assessment that young people must look to the future in order to get through the pain; bullying is inevitable in today’s environment, and gay teens must be allowed to get through to the other side, where they can feel free to be themselves and not be beaten for being or even looking different. Through Burns’ testimony, it can be made clear that he made it through the same trials and tribulations that many troubled gay kids are going through and made it, setting himself up as an example to follow.