The Dallas Morning News has named openly gay Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns as a finalist for their annual Texan Of The Year award. Burns gained national attention for his heartfelt and heartbreaking “It Gets Better” message delivered from his seat during a city council meeting in October.
From an editorial in today’s paper:
Joel Burns was the picture of courage. Fort Worth’s openly gay City Council member had privately carried the pain of anti-gay bullying he suffered while growing up in nearby Crowley. Even his parents didn’t know the depths of his despair – until they found out in a very public way this fall.
In the opening moments of a City Council meeting, Burns used his microphone to reflect on a half-dozen teenagers who ended their lives rather than endure another minute of harassment. And he tearfully talked about his torment. “When someone like him who is so laid back speaks out so passionately, you know it really matters to him,” said state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth.
Burns’ appeal has inspired anti-bullying legislation in Texas, an outgrowth that could well save young lives. Burns has appeared on national and international radio and TV shows and received thousands of supportive e-mails and voicemails. Some are emotional and graphic testimonies from youngsters who said they were on the verge of suicide until they heard Burns speak. For his uncommon, selfless courage to spare others, Burns is a finalist for 2010 Dallas Morning News Texan of the Year.
Our congratulations to Councilman Burns!