Please stick around

October 17, 2010

Joel Burns is the son of a Texas cowboy. He’s also a city councillor in Fort Worth. And faced with a spate of teen gay suicides, he used a council session to give an emotional speech addressed directly to troubled teens:

“I know that life can seem unbearable. I know people in your household or in your school may not understand you and that they may even physically harm you. But I want you to know that it gets better…”

He then talks a bit about his own experiences of being bullied for being different, concluding:

“Yes, high school was difficult. Coming out was painful. But life got so much better for me. And I want to tell any teen who might see this: give yourself a chance to see how much better life will get.”

He goes on to talk about some of the good things that happened to him – including proposing to his husband in a field of cows under a Texan sunset. Which leads him to make a heartfelt plea:

“To those that are feeling very alone tonight, please know that I understand how you feel. But things will get easier. Please stick around to make those happy memories for yourself.”

Do watch the video. It’s much more effective hearing him speak the words. And not just because of the Texan accent.

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A scaring sentence

May 23, 2010

Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, two men in Malawi who had an unofficial marriage ceremony, have been convicted to 14 years in prison for gay sex. The judge said it was a “a scaring sentence, so that the public be protected from people like you; so that we are not tempted to emulate this horrendous example.” Scaring indeed.

It’s easy for those of us in the UK (and other Western countries), with all the advances in gay rights over the last 40 years, to forget how bad things can still be elsewhere. But before we get too judgemental, it turns out that the law under which they were convicted was introduced under British rule.

Let’s just hope that what’s happened since then over here will happen over there.