Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Gay teens: It gets better.

Oh my gosh!

This video doesn't even come from Austin. But it DOES come from Fort Worth.

I am just so happy this comes from Texas.

When you look around, it's pretty clear that gay rights are the civil rights of our generation. Marriage. Tax breaks.  Don't Ask Don't Tell.  These are the big gay rights issues, the kind you hear about in the media, from both sides of the political spectrum.

But when he talks about being a gay teen, and the bullying he faced back then, Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns addresses something that all of those hot button political issues don't touch.

How much it sucks, as a kid, to have people hate you for no reason.

Isn't that the most moving thing you've ever seen?

Can I tell you guys something?

This is hard to admit.

When I was a Christian in high school, a girl asked me if I thought homosexuality was a sin. And I said yes.

And then, I outlined why.

I wish I could go back in time, and shake my stupid 16-year-old self, and knock some sense into her. I wish I could tell her: "Hey. Guess what. In a few years, half your friends will be gay."

It didn't take long for me to revise my opinion on that whole thing. Christianity and homosexuality, I mean.

But I think those subtle "tsk tsk" attitudes, those under-the-breath comments of disapproval about gay people, those calm, rational arguments from Christians (or, any religion for that matter) against homosexuality -- are far more dangerous than any "GOD HATES FAGS" sign-wielder.

Because we all know those people are clowns. But a supposedly smart 16-year-old, gently telling her friend why gay people are sinners? What if a gay guy or girl at my school overheard me saying that?

That's the kind of thing that'll drive you crazy at night if you're young and gay. "What if she's right? What if I'm evil?"

I'm not a Christian anymore, but I have the utmost respect in the world for straight Christian allies, who rally for gay rights. Oh my God, do we need more of those out there.

If you are one of them, I love you.  I am serious. I think you are about the coolest person in the world, for being something I never could be: A Christian, and a gay rights supporter/activist, simultaneously.

And I love you too, Joel Burns. I love you so much! Thank you for your brave speech, thank you for being from TEXAS and being so vocal about this, thank you for your loving and heartfelt message to gay teenagers. I am so proud of my state right now because of you.

PS. Austinites, here is an awesome list of local resources on this issue, if you'd like to get involved.


katherine said...

i heard about this on npr yesterday. sounded awesome and meant to check out the video when i came home, but then i went to sao paulo and had two margaritas and subsequently forgot. thanks for reminding me to watch!

katherine said...

ps: here's the link to the channel with all the videos, just in case!

Austin Eavesdropper said...

@Katherine - Sao Paulo!! Only one of Ross and I's favorite restaurants. Mmm. Mojitos...

Oh, and thank you for that YouTube link!! I hadn't even seen that yet!

bsimms8907 said...

This is now my most favorite post you have ever written. I am so happy that this video comes from Ft. Worth since that is the area where I'm originally from. Often times I felt out of place in the DFW area for my pro-gay rights beliefs. It makes me so happy to see that I was in fact not the only person. I'm not going to lie that video made me cry numerous times. I'm actually going to a candle light vigil on the UT campus tonight for all the recent gay teen suicides. Though I feel I am more spiritual than Christian these days, I would at the moment classify myself as a Christian straight ally, and yes there does need to be more of us out there. People need to stop taking the "I'm staying out of this" attitude just because they don't personally identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered. Just like no one should be judged on their gender or their race, there is no reason someone should be discriminated for their sexual orientation! Everyone is created equal and gay rights shouldn't be viewed as GAY rights; they should be viewed as HUMAN rights!

Anonymous said...

Wow listening to him give that speech reminded me of all the bullying I received in 7th and 8th grade. I was the new kid in a small private school. It was hard to fit in but I made friends.

Bullies of all kinds need to be stopped. I faced my bully but it wasn't fun. People can be so mean.
Too many people just look away and say nothing.

maureen @ The Inglenook Decor said...

OMG Tolly! What a heartfelt & moving message! I'm such as softie...I balled the first 4 minutes..I do remember the teenage me being confused & so unsure of myself...what more for kids who are bullied & seen "different"? I am always instilling in my daughter how to love & accept everybody. I do hope that this crisis ends.

Katie said...

Wow, I balled like a baby. Thanks for sharing. What courage this man, Joel has!

Ms Amanda said...

I came across your blog while scrolling through Blogger.
I am so grateful! Thank you for posting the video. I'll be sharing it all over!
I'm a Christian Straight Ally for Gay Rights! And I agree we need a whole lot more of us!
Gay rights are Human Rights

joanna said...

I just balled my eyes out. I'm from Ft.Worth. Next time I go home I need to meet that guy! Thanks for posting.

Austin Eavesdropper said...

@BSimms8907 - AMEN to the HUMAN rights rather than GAY rights. You are 100% right on.

How cool is it that there's a candlelight vigil going on for the recent events? I think that is beautiful.

@Bry2an - Good for you for facing your bully. 7th grade was such a weird time for me, too. I wasn't the new kid, but I just did not fit in ANYWHERE. I had one friend who didn't fit in anywhere, either, and looking back she was a total badass. Her name was Katie, she was the only vegetarian I knew, and she eventually left our public school to go to an arts school. I used to spend the night at her house and we'd scream the Dazed & Confused sountrack into her little plug-in karaoke machine.

@Maureen - GOOD FOR YOU for teaching your daughter how to be wholly accepting of people! It is one of the most important lessons you can pass on, I think. My mom is just like you in that sense: She used to work at a job with lots of older people, and threw little parties at our house with them. Not FOR them, but WITH them. As in, she partied down with the 80+ year-olds. I have never, ever forgotten that. And neither will your daughter, of your examples and lessons.

@Katie - Right? I cried and cried too!!

@Ms Amanda - I'm so glad you stumbled on Austin Eavesdropper! Welcome. :) I hope you enjoy your stay!

Amy Strecker said...

This is pretty awesome. We need more Joels out there. FYI -- I just heard about a movement to wear purple on Oct. 20 to draw awareness to GLBT bullying and honor those that have lost their lives.

Anonymous said...

Bawled= cried a lot.

Balled = uhhhhh

Heather Howell said...

This was a very moving speech. One thing about this whole "media frenzy" happening all of a sudden that sort of pisses me off is that bullying has been going on for YEARS. It's sad that it has taken all these young people taking their lives for us to finally put a spotlight on this issue.

And don't beat yourself up about your opinion when you were 16. We've all been that nieve 16 year old girl who didn't really know any better. What matters is now.

Cathy Benavides said...

LOVE this post girl- seriously I love it. My sister and I actually talked about this last night. She is a very devout Catholic, and she firmly believes that Catholics and Christians are taught to love and to not judge, and she does not think that being gay is a sin at all. There should be more Christians like her! Thanks for the post!!

Trevor said...

If anyone wants to call or email Mr. Burns with words of encouragement, you can find his contact information here:

Texanthropology said...

Tolly! I was totally a "gays-are-sinners" Christian in high school, too, and am still appalled that I ever thought that way.

Frank J. Rivera said...

Giant bawlin mess right now. Seriously. I'm a Kleenex ad waiting to happen.

Christi @ Rumination Avenue said...

Wow. I'm saving the vid for after work, but even the post itself is moving. Part of my family is homophobic(the part that always makes you wonder if they might be...) and I've hated that before I knew better I thought it was wrong, too. Your admission rings true and thanks for that. Texas is a bit backward in the movement, thank God we live in Austin, right?

Piper Jones said...

wow, how powerful and courageous - thank you for making this a focal point for us all, Tolly, you're so good at that. I think it all goes down to a plea to all adults to please think twice, three times before teaching your children how to hate. Being a human being sometimes lends itself to us forgetting how to behave how God intended. I'm going to pass this on, right now. Thank you!

Anastasia said...

I love when someone from Texas redeems us because not a lot of Texan public figures.

I have three daughters and bullying terrifies me. I worry all the time about them being hurt so much that they want to kill themselves.