Last week was life-changing for Joel Burns of Fort Worth, Texas. The councilman took an opportunity at the weekly city council meeting to express concern for how today’s kids are being treated by schoolmates and/or by members of their household for being “different.” His emotional speech carried a number of encouraging messages to troubled teens, as Burns indicated that he had been in their position before and knew what they were going through. A video of his comments was posted online, and it went viral. Within two days, he received more than 7,000 messages through both e-mail and Facebook (mtv.com).
Joel Burns is an openly gay member of society. His address to the community was filled with positive, real-life scenarios that he had experienced as an adult that he would have shown his 13-year-old self at a rough time in his youth. There were many inspiring takeaways that troubled teens – gay or straight – should remember from the words that Burns expressed.
“Life will get so much better.”
Truer words were never spoken, no matter what your sexual orientation is. Sometimes, kids are just mean, and it can manifest in ways that may or may not include verbal abuse.
I was neither gay nor a nerd, but I came from a good home and I was active in sports and clubs in high school, and that was a real sore spot for my so-called girlfriends. By my senior year, I had no friends left, as they banded together against me. I chose to spend the year at my local community college through a great program called “Early Admissions” that my high school participated in. If not for that program, I would have had the worst year of my academic career.
And do you know what? It doesn’t matter now. The way that those girls treated me was terribly painful, but it was temporary. And once I got to college, I met a wealth of people who liked me for exactly who I was. And I’ve never looked back.
“Stick around to make happy memories for yourself.”
It goes hand-in-hand with the belief above, but it’s definitely worth fighting for. There is so much that you could miss out on if you give up your life too soon. Think about what your hopes and dreams are. Visualize what you want to become some day. Are you going to let a bunch of bullies keep you from your future? Do you know that it empowers them when you give in to your own grief? It is definitely hard to not be affected by what is said or done to you, but you must never give up. There is a light ahead, because every teen has a bright future. Don’t you want to see all of the good things that are in store for you?
“The attitudes of society will change.”
Look how far we’ve come already! We’ve seen an increase in hit television shows that have much-loved gay characters. We have wonderful gay and lesbian celebrity role models whom any person can look up to. You can’t change everyone’s opinion, but people have to loosen up their views eventually because they’ll get left behind if they don’t. Then you will have the last laugh. So, hang in there.
Damian Vaca, “Fort Worth Councilmember Joel Burns Hears Back from Gay Teens”, MTV.com