I just watched a very moving 12 minute speech made yesterday at Fort Worth’s city council meeting. In it City Councilman Joel Burns discusses his concerns about the suicides of gay youth. The speech was in part a response to the suicide of Asher Brown, a 13-year-old eighth-grader from Texas, who took his life on September 23, 2010.
Councilman Burns speech started and ended with an appeal to the adult community to make schools safe and free from bullying, but in the middle of the speech he made an appeal directly to LGBT youth that life will get better. And in that appeal Burns emptied his heart of all the trauma he faced as a gay youth, he introduced the world to his 13-year-old self as a gay boy filled with fear and self loathing (Asher’s age two weeks ago when he was still alive), and he took that boy to the future to see a life of love and joy.
This is one courageous and powerful speech for a council meeting with your friends and neighbors. And yes I admit when I first saw the 12 minute timer on the video I thought oh no… but I have to say every bit of those 12 minutes is worth watching.
Fort Worth City Council Meeting 10/12/10
In using his city council platform to reach out to LGBT youth, Joel was on another level responding to the recent suicide of 19 year old Zach Harrington.
Zach committed suicide last week after he attended a very different city council meeting in Norman, OK. At that council meeting, on September 28th, there was a three-hour debate over recognizing GLBT History month. The “spirited debate” offered equal time to people representing “both sides” of this issue.
This of course meant a three-hour debate where “both sides” included those who see LGBT people as human beings with a history and those who don’t. Or as one community member explained those in the community who moved to Norman because they knew it was the kind of place where you wouldn’t have to accept gay people.
Norman City Council Meeting 9/28/10
Well, the contrast between what kind of world you’d like to be a part of couldn’t be much more stark as far as I am concerned. And I can’t say much Joel didn’t already say. Right now I just wish I was back in middle school showing students Josh Burns’ speech and asking them what kind of world they’d like to make when their turn comes.
My heart continues to break for these families and these two young men who were cheated out of life.