FORT WORTH, TX (RNN) - City council meetings are not normally the place-of-origin for videos gone viral. But a motivational clip on YouTube featuring Fort Worth, TX City Councilman Joel Burns is being Tweeted, Facebooked and otherwise blogged all over the internet in the wake of a string of suicides by teens who were bullied.
The video, which has gotten more than 500,000 views on YouTube since it was posted Oct. 13, shows Burns, who is openly gay, sharing his personal story of overcoming the stigma of homosexuality in his Texas middle and high school.
"One day when I was in the ninth grade, I was cornered after school by some older kids who roughed me up," Burns recalled. "They said that I was a 'faggot' and that I should die and go to hell where I belong."
Already struggling with emotions he said he didn't understand, the incident "erupted the fear that I had kept pushed down that what I was feeling on the inside was beginning to show on the outside. "
Burns said it was at that moment he knew "There must be something very wrong with me … Something that I could never let my family or anyone else know."
Choking up, he eluded to feelings of wanting to commit suicide, but couldn't compose himself to tell the story.
"The story is for the young people who might be holding that gun or the rope or the pill bottle. You need to know the story doesn't end [on that day]. There's so, so much more."
In the speech, Burns imagined showing his 13-year-old self all the good things in his future he couldn't yet see, things he wouldn't want to miss.
"If I could, I would take the 13-year-old me to election night in 2007 in a room filled with countless family and friends erupting in cheers as it became clear I would win my first election, so I could see the love and support for me that was in the room that night. "
He continued, "I would take the 13-year-old me to just a few days ago at Baylor Hospital to see our dad, who I thought would never understand me. And the 13-year-old me would see my dad after he woke up from his operation, and him squeezing my hand and look up at me and say 'I'm so glad you're here today,' and me saying back to my 'I am too, dad. I am too.'"
Burns encouraged kids who are bullied to realize that there are better days ahead if they allow themselves the opportunity to live to see them.
"I want to tell any teen who might see this - give yourself a chance to see how much better life will get. And it will get better. You will get out of the household that doesn't accept you. You will get out of high school and you will never have to deal with those jerks again if you don't want to. You will find and you will make new friends who will understand you and life will get so, so, so much better.
"Please stick around to make those happy memories for yourself."
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