"It was so real and raw and moving," the talk show host tells the Texas politician

By Stephen M. Silverman
October 20, 2010 01:55 PM
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Credit: Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.

He spoke out and millions listened on YouTube – and now Joel Burns, the gay city councilman from Fort Worth, Texas, whose impassioned speech went viral last week, is sitting down to chat with Ellen DeGeneres.

“It was something that I had thought about particularly during the month of September,” Burns tells the talk show host of his 12-minute speech in an interview set to air on Wednesday’s The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

“I have to tell you that on Monday of last week, when a young man named Zach Harrington in Oklahoma committed suicide after attending a city council meeting where a bunch of unfortunate anti-gay rhetoric was thrown about, and he killed himself,” he says, “I thought if there is any better venue to take this on it’s at my own city council meeting.”

“It was so real and raw and moving,” DeGeneres says of the speech, in which Burns, 40, shared his own personal experience with bullying. “You are a great example. You are successful. You went through it. You got through it and things do get better and I think that is the message to send. Look at your life now. Look at what you’re doing and how successful you are.”

As for his message to bullied kids, Burns tells DeGeneres, “There are so many happy memories that will be made. You just have to live long enough to get to them.”

In that speech, delivered during a routine city council meeting, Burns recounted that his schoolmates “said that I was a f–– and that I should die.”

“Coming out was painful, but life got so much better for me,” Burns continued. “You will get out of that high school and you’ll never have to deal with those jerks again if you don’t want to. You will find and you will make new friends who will understand you. And life will get so, so, so much better. You will have a lifetime of happy memories if you just allow yourself and give yourself the time to make them.”