Fort Worth Councilman to LGBT Teens: It Gets Better

In the wake of a series of youth suicides related to anti-LGBT bullying, Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns addressed fellow council members at a Tuesday City Council meeting and told of his own personal struggle growing up gay and how he is living proof that life does get better.

Burns said on Tuesday that he felt “ashamed, humiliated and confused” when he was taunted by other kids at school, bullying that almost led him to… he couldn’t finish that sentence, but the implication was clear.

Yet he wished he could reach back through the years and tell his 13-year-old self how life would get better, how he would find acceptance from his family, how he would eventually meet the love of his life and how, in spite of the discrimination that still exists, he would be elected as a councilman for District 9 in 2008.

No doubt he would also want to tell his 13-year-old self about the day that he moved a room of council members to a standing ovation with his courageous honesty as he sort to reach out and help LGBT teens. Watch the video below. It’s long, it’s heart-wrenching, but it’s truly worth it:

Since sharing his story on Tuesday, Burns has made international headlines and received a great deal of praise. However, Burns is keen to keep a focus on why he shared his personal story,  saying on his website:

Dear Friends,

I am moved by the overwhelming support and touching comments that I have received by so many people since sharing my story at City Council on Tuesday. Thank you.

I encourage you to continue to speak out against bullying from wherever you stand today – whether as an adult or youth, whether gay or straight. And, I commit to do the same.

Please share the message with the people in your life and learn more at

I know this conversation will continue and grow. If you are interested in periodically following what I learn and experience, please click my “Get Involved” link.

Joel Burns

Of all the “It Gets Better” videos I have seen to date, the above is perhaps one of the most moving. Burns is not only an example of someone saying “It Gets Better” but also a person trying to make it better for LGBT youth and all youths facing harassment and bullying.

The Make It Better Project
The Make It Better Project is supported by a host of LGBT organizations and charities and is aimed at LGBT youth with the message that, yes, it does get better, but you don’t have to wait. There are people out there wanting to help you to stop the bullying right here, right now; all you have to do is to reach out to them. For more information, and links to resources for LGBT teens, their parents, educators and straight advocates, please click here.

Connect with the Make It Better Project:

CARE2 PETITION: Help end anti-LGBT bullying!

Already signed the Care2 petition? Thank you! Please consider forwarding it to five friends.

Don’t Suffer in Silence, Get Help!

The Trevor Project runs a 24/7 helpline with trained counselors ready to listen if you or someone you know would like to talk about the issues dealt with in this post.

The Trevor Project Helpline number is 1-866-4-U-TREVOR (1-866-488-7386).

Trevor Project Links:


jane richmond
jane richmond7 years ago

Great campaign!!!

Jay G.
Jay G.7 years ago

Yes, it can get better. You just have to be stronger, smarter, faster, nicer, more patient and especially resilient. Those are good characteristics for anyone to cultivate.

What is most difficult to recover from is rejection from family and others you care about. The scars from unfair treatment can haunt you throughout your life. It can stifle confidence and any positive expectations you might otherwise have developed.

The solution is for anyone who sees a child being mistreated for being different to accept the responsibility to speak up and try to provide positive reinforcement. All it takes to save a life is to demonstrate there is at least one caring person who believes in the potential of that neglected child and says so.

Hatred and prejudice are toxic and often learned at home. The most common antidotes can be teachers, librarians, community leaders, shopkeepers, service providers -- anyone who comes in contact with children and makes an effort to be kind. Words can be weapons, but they can also be tools to improve a child's self esteem. Use them to encourage children and know that your kindness will make the world a better place -- one smiling child at a time.

Carol Matthews
Carol Matthews7 years ago

No one deserves to be bullied. I am glad this man is stepping up to give kids a message of hope.

ruth a.
ruth a7 years ago

No, it doesn't get better for everyone the way these videos suggest, and yes, white males have it easier than the rest of us, HOWEVER, it does get better than life in high school. Nothing will ever be as bad as that!

Michelle M.
Michelle M7 years ago

I support what the campaign is trying to do, but it does NOT "get better" for everyone. Rich white cis gay men have more opportunities to move and further their lives than poor black trans women, you know? If this coucilman is actually trying to reform society, than good on him! THAT is how things will get better.

Roxanne Williams
Roxanne Williams7 years ago

thats deep :)

Elsa Ferreira
Elsa Ilieva7 years ago

Don't call him a hero, though, as teens can find themselves short on being heros. Of course we all are heroes as we had/have to go through a lot of bad experiences but calling it being a hero makes it something unreachable by mere mortals, and it isn't as all our lives show.

Elsa Ferreira
Elsa Ilieva7 years ago

Wonderful man. And wonderful parents to do the right thing and support him! Bullies are the problem, not LGBT people. It will never be enough to repeat to others and ourselves.

Christine S.

I am glad someone is stepping forward to show support for bullied kids.

Stephen Y.
Stephen Young7 years ago

What a great guy