FORT WORTH, Texas — A city councilman in Fort Worth, Texas, has rocketed into cyberspace prominence in a video pleading with gay teens not to commit suicide and tearfully recounting his own ordeals as a bullied schoolboy.Councilman Joel Burns made the appeal during a 12-minute speech to the council on Tuesday. The speech was recorded on video and placed on YouTube.
He first told the story of taunted teens who did commit suicide and then told of his own struggles.
"Yes, high school was difficult, coming out was painful, but life got so much better for me," Burns said. "And 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. ... Life will get so, so, so much better."
Burns uploaded his speech to YouTube on Wednesday, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. Links were quickly posted on Facebook, the Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, Gawker and, in England, The Guardian's news blog, the newspaper said.
By Friday evening, the video had received more than 566,000 hits on YouTube, and Burns was being lauded on social networking sites.
The video also won him invitations to national TV appearances Friday on CNN and CBS news shows, the Star-Telegram reported.