Gay Councilman's Plea To Bullied Teens Goes Viral

(AP) 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.

"Give your self a chance to see how much life will get better," Councilman Joel Burns says in his appeal to bullied teens, which he made during a 12-minute speech to the council on Tuesday.

By Friday afternoon, the video had received more than 500,000 hits on YouTube, and Burns was being lauded on social networking sites.

Burns, who is openly gay, prefaced his appeal by recounting several of the recent cases in which teens across the U.S. had killed themselves after being targeted by anti-gay bullying.

The victims included Asher Brown, 13, of Houston, who shot himself with his father's handgun, and Tyler Clementi, 18, the Rutgers University freshman who jumped off the George Washington Bridge in New York after his roommate secretly recorded him with another male student, then broadcast the video online.

"This bullying and harassment in our schools must stop," Burns said, describing it as an epidemic.