DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Earlier this week, Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns gave a speech to gay teens, pleading them not to commit suicide. He tearfully recounted his own story of being bullied in school. The video of his speech has been seen more than 500,000 times on YouTube. The appeal came after several teens across the country killed themselves after being targeted by bullies for being gay.
At a rally supporting gay teens in Dallas on Friday night, Burns was hailed as a hero for sharing his story.
Elliott Puckett knows how important it is to have a voice. “I’ve been a victim of [bullying] my entire life,” said the 17-year-old who goes to Ennis High School. Puckett said that he was taunted on a regular basis. “When I was a freshman, I was followed into a bathroom stall and beaten by a group of guys. And it was because I was gay.”
Puckett is a senior now, and admitted that he had thought about suicide. “I didn’t feel like I was wanted,” he said. “I didn’t feel like people wanted me.”
At the Friday rally, organizers and supporters gathered to remember teens across the country who killed themselves after being targeted by anti-gay bullying. “If they are exposed to this type of bullying,” explained Damien Duckett with the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, “they can go to their principal, tell them about it and know that something will be done.”
In Puckett’s case, something was done. The boy’s mother got involved. “He’s my child and I love him,” said Robin Beckham. “I want him to be heatlhy and strong and happy.”
Puckett is stronger now, he said, and can tolerate more. But erasing what happened cannot be done over night. “Whenever I think about people that were cruel to me, I don’t hate them,” Puckett said. “I feel like they don’t understand that I’m just like them. I’m the same person. I just have a different style of life.”
The group behind the Friday rally is now pushing for laws to protect those who are struggling with anti-gay bullying. They say that now is the time to pressure elected offficials and get legislation passed.