In this video, I share a side of myself that I've never shared with anyone: no best friend, no family member, no bishop. But it is a message that must be delivered. And the message I want you to take from the video is this: Not only can we survive bullying, we can thrive. While what I went through growing up was painful, it helped fashion me into the man I am today--and gave me levels of compassion, forgiveness, and kindness that I would never have developed otherwise. I wouldn't wish it on anyone--but I wouldn't change a single moment of it, either.
My life now is amazing--I have a wonderful career, a supportive family, and a great interfaith network of friends who love me for exactly who I am--the same way my Savior does.
I am no one's victim. And I don't need anyone's apology to be happy.
And neither do you.
My video remarks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkkM6kDAQWQ&feature=youtu.be
For my friend Margot, who walks this path with me.
(May 3, 2012, Ogden, Utah) In response to the latest LGBT youth suicide in Northern Utah, community leaders spoke out for an end to bullying in schools and related suicides. OUTreach, a LGBT Center located in Ogden, hosted: “A Community Stands up - Northern Utah Addresses LGBT Bullying and Suicide.”
Speakers included Kendall Wilcox, producer of the recent Brigham Young University Students “It Gets Better” video, who spoke through tears of his conversations with youth and adults who struggle with family and church support. Teacher Bonnie Flint in Davis County said her district received an email from a gay student who said he was being bullied and called names in the locker room. “I don’t think this should happen to anyone’s kids,” said Flint, a mother herself. “There are a lot of us who care, and we would do anything to help you.”
Jim Rollins, a straight father and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, took to the stage to let everyone at the vigil, regardless of who they were, know that they are loved. “I, in high school, I’m definitely guilty of using derogatory terms,” said one man. “I wouldn’t be caught dead doing that now. It’s because I love you, and it’s because I care.”
As the event concluded, over 250 candles were lighted, filling the amphitheater with light. Religious leaders from diverse faith traditions offered prayers for the young lives that have been lost, and for healing, love, peace and action for change.
Support from all over the country included active Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints members. Mormon Church priesthood leader, Mitch Mayne, who is also openly gay,
recorded a video for the event, sharing his experiences of being bullied in school and suicide attempts (http://www.youtube.com/watch?
OUTreach Executive Director Marian Edmonds notes: “This is only the beginning. The
community response has been overwhelming that we must protect our children from bullying and homophobia. We must continue to press for the changes needed to ensure safety so that every child can grow up to adulthood. The community demands no less and we will continue to educate families, schools, congregations and our community hold forums, panels and rallies to organize channel this energy for positive change.”
Edmonds praised media coverage of the event which highlighted hope for change, especially the work of the Family Acceptance Project (FAP), an evidence-based approach that strengthens and helps families decrease their LGBT children’s risk and promote their well-being. (http://familyproject.sfsu.
The next community meeting, “Making Change: A Community Stands Up Against Bullying and Suicide” will take place May 17th, 7:15 pm at the Ogden Library Main Branch Auditorium, 2464 Jefferson Ave., Ogden.