awesome people

Ft. Worth Councilman Joel Burns Has Received 800 Phone Calls, And Already Saved At Least 1 Life

“It is important to point out in these moments of grief that there is absolutely no scientific evidence of an ‘epidemic of gay youth suicide,’ or even that gay youth kill themselves more frequently than do straight youth,” says Ritch Savin-Williams, professor of developmental psychology and director of Cornell University’s Sex and Gender Lab — which flies in the face of one study that says gay teens are four times more at risk of suicide than their straight counterparts. “[T]o assert that there is an epidemic of gay youth suicide is not only speculative but also irresponsible because of the message it delivers to gay youth: ‘be prepared to kill yourself.’ Indeed, most gay youth love their life and wouldn’t change their sexuality even if they had a magic pill to do so. Is this not the better message to deliver?” Of course it is. It doesn’t change the awful reality we’re in the middle of. The one that Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns — who in 2007 triumphed over anti-gay attacks to win his seat, and whose anti-bullying speech last week quickly went viral — recognized in the suicide of Zach Harrington.

Speaking to MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts on Friday (below) and The Early Show‘s Chris Wragge on Saturday (top), Burns says he wanted to deliver his story at the previous week’s City Council meeting, but decided not to. Then he heard about Harrington, the Norman, Oklahoma 19-year-old who attended a hateful Council meeting of his own, where he heard his neighbors reveal their disgust about homosexuality — and then killed himself.

After giving out his own phone number at the meeting, Burns says he’s received some 800 phone calls. As far away as Australia, where at least one young man is still alive today.

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  • Soupy

    Does anyone have an email address for Mr. Burns? I really want to contact and commend him. And no, I don’t mean Mr. Burns from the Simpsons.

  • TomEM

    Joel Burns contact information is listed at the end of his speech on YouTube. The Email address listed there is ‘joel DOT burns AT fortworthgov DOT org’.

  • ewe


  • ewe

    Obama is insincere. He has only one heart and he should speak only for himself. Who is “OUR”? His words are hollow and not informed about bullying or sexual oppression.

  • MMDD

    Joel Burns makes me proud to say, “He’s on my team.”

  • Soupy

    Thanks Glacier. I hope Joel moves up in politics!

  • Greg

    Thomas Roberts is so hot.

  • ewe

    Where is his husband? I want to see him portrayed to the masses as part of a couple. The media always makes gay men stand alone and Joel Burns is not alone. He is in a loving nourishing relationship.

  • TampaZeke

    @ewe: On the earlier 30 minute CNN segment (not the one with Roberts), they showed a photo of Joel and his husband. They are both adorable and even more so together.

  • traver

    40 years ago it was only reported as “a high school student was found dead out near by lake”… now we know oh so much more and now their is NO EXCUSE not to come out, so others may LIVE

  • Fitz

    He did a great thing– and I think with no planning, no calculation about how it would help his career.. He just did what seemed right. Even editing himself from reading all of what he wrote, to spare his folks the graphic detail, shows his amazing ability to assess a situation and make a good choice. There is no way he can manage all these calls and emails, he had better have someone set up a team around him. He can’t be every gay kid’s good uncle. We have to fill in the blanks.

  • declanto

    Standing up and facing off with the bullies is the stuff of true heroes. How many hetero macho-men can come close tto this kind of grit?

  • David Ehrenstein

    This is what fierce advocacy looks like boys and girls.

  • Aaron in Honolulu

    His video reduced me to a hot teary mess… I didn’t tear, I cried. It was so beautiful.

  • Wolfbear

    I love this man! This is the kind of people we need to come forward and let the youth know that there are lots of us and they are welcome to a viable and fulfilling life.

  • ewe

    @TampaZeke: I am very glad to hear that. I missed it.

Comments are closed.