Note: This is a pretty hefty post. But most personal ones are. If you get to the end I hope you won’t be disappointed. Inspired by Fort Worth City Councilman, Joel Burns and every kid that has ever felt alone. I hope this will inspire you as well.

Looking at the past

When I was 11, my family and I settled into a new state. A home in a small Indiana town outside Indianapolis, In. Immediately I wasn’t the most popular kid. In elementary and middle school I was made fun of and often the butt of jokes. It was evident that I was different. That I did not look the same or had much in common (on the surface) as many of the other kids in this small town.

It may have been because of my size.

At my age, at a time where most kids were beginning to reach anywhere between 5’6′ and 5’9′ on average, I was only about 5’1′. I didn’t reach a full height of 5’7′ until I was almost 20. For most of my pre-teen and teen years I was a target. I had very few friends. Moving from California to a small Midwestern town where the ideals and perceptions were very much conservative and non-progressive, there were never many people that would accept who I was or what I looked like.

It may have been because of my race.

I was a kid, adopted, having no true idea of my racial background. While my skin tone in my 30′s is different, some close friends now still find it hard to believe how much lighter I am now then when I was a kid. In an all white town, a mixed up, multi-racial kid - there were few people I could connect with. My twin sister and I were close but once middle school hit it changed. She became more popular and I, slightly less. While we are twins and look alike standing next to each other, people find it hard to believe that we were related.

The Treatment

Called Nigger, spic, half-breed on a regular basis. I was spit on in arcades, held up against lockers and talked down to in sports tournaments, I was often an outcast. The name calling and treatment behind my back and to my face worked me both mentally and physically. The only time I could say I was somewhat accepted was during track meets, cross country and other sports. I was good. I could run. I could run fast and furious. Maybe I was running from something. Maybe I became so good at running away for a reason. Hmmm…

Looking at the present

As I grew older and more independent from the groups I started to put less weight on the things others said. The negative comments and hurtful words. As time passed I became more confident, realizing that how I felt about myself was stronger than what anyone could say or feel about me!

“We can only be what we give ourselves the power to be.”
— Obert Skye

I believe in that statement. We give others power. I know that now. But when I was young, I didn’t. I barely knew who I was much less what or who I wanted to become.

We are all the same. We are all different

As with anyone of us, this confidence takes time. It takes time to reach that place of self-worth and definition. Some of us are given the environment and freedom to be able to reach that confidence early on. Others of us have to run through the briar patches of life and reach that level of confidence far past the point of giving up. And then there are others of us that never reach that point of confidence. Those who either get stuck in the briar patch or die trying to realize something better.

So what does this have to do with work?

Nothing. Everything.

You see I watched something that moved me. It was of a city council member expressing his feelings on many children being picked on. Those children, being gay or simply being suspected of being gay. Children who were picked on because they were different or thought of as being different. Who were going through briar patches? Who took their lives because they could no longer take the pain? The hurtful words.

When we grow up and are finally in the workplace, we expect a certain level of respect. We expect to be rewarded for our good works, our passion and experience. We expect to be treated fairly. It is our hope that regardless of our personal lives, our deeds and talents will earn us something. This is not always the case.

I have been in environments that are downright racially and sexually discriminatory; offering little to no opportunity to those who are not fortunate enough to be in power. I have worked for companies and places that I would have never wanted to leave if circumstances would have been different. Most of my career has been one of the minority reaching for the glass ceiling. I hear stories of how few reach that goal. Interestingly enough in my current job I am still the minority. This time, I am the minority surrounded by glass floors looking down and around. Talking and dealing with executives that do not come from where I have been. Quite possibly do not share the same story as I have. But the fact remains that I am here.

Some were not lucky enough to get past their childhood. I am lucky. I am blessed. Blessed enough to have survived whatever traumatic story I may have faced. We all can if we are given, or more importantly, build the confidence to give ourselves a chance.

Family and a Nudge at the Heart

Things will get easier, please stick around to make those happy memories for yourself… it may not seem like it tonight but they will. The attitudes of society will change. Please stick around long enough to be able to see it!

- Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns

IMG 2175 e1288060476810 225x300 Personal Post: Being Honest. It Will Get BetterThe video below is what inspired this rant. 12 minutes but worthwhile to watch! Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns reaches out to GLBT teens with a personal story and a message of hope. I have my beliefs. I believe in God and I am a Christian. That faith and belief tells me to treat others as I would want to be treated. My personal experience tells me that a God that I believe in would not want this for anyone.

I have a son. He is two years old. I have a family. While I have my own personal prejudices and beliefs of what life he would have, what career I would like him to choose, school he attends, friends he picks and experiences he has; I can only control and guide so much. Ultimately, it is up to him to be everything he wants to be. I just pray that I can be the most supportive father and champion for him, regardless of where life leads him.

I hope others are listening. Regardless of your beliefs, your politics or faith… no child deserves to be picked on to this extreme. No child should feel that they have no way out. No child should take their life for something as petty and short lived as words said out of ignorance or beliefs, through wisdom and time, we all should regret.

Things will get easier, please stick around to make those happy memories for yourself… it may not seem like it tonight but they will. The attitudes of society will change. Please stick around long enough to be able to see it!

- Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns


U.S. President’s Contribution to the Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project!

Things will get better. Things will get easier. I hope you will be one of the many that contribute to it being so.



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