Trailer: Emotional Story Of Father’s Tribute To Son ‘Joe Bell’

Mark Wahlberg in 'Joe Bell' (all photos: Quantrell D. Colbert)
Mark Wahlberg in 'Joe Bell' (all photos: Quantrell D. Colbert)
Mark Wahlberg in ‘Joe Bell’ (all photos: Quantrell D. Colbert)

Academy Award nominee Mark Wahlberg stars in the upcoming film Joe Bell, which tells the intimate and emotional true story of an Oregonian father who pays tribute to his teenage son Jadin.

The film, written by Academy Award winners Diana Ossana & Larry McMurtry (Brokeback Mountain), is based on a true story.

In 2013, at the age of 15, Jadin Bell took his own life at a nearby elementary school playground after being bullied and ridiculed by classmates for being gay.

Following his son’s death, Joe Bell embarks on a self-reflective walk across America to speak his heart to heartland citizens about the real and terrifying costs of bullying.

Reid Miller and Mark Wahlberg in 'Joe Bell'
Reid Miller and Mark Wahlberg in ‘Joe Bell’

The film also stars Connie Britton, Reid Miller and Gary Sinise.

Joe Bell arrives in theaters July 23.

Sadly, the issue of mental health and bullying is not just a story for a dramatic film.

The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health notes that:

• 75% of LGBTQ youth reported that they had experienced discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity at least once in their lifetime.

• 42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth.

If you or someone you know is feeling hopeless or suicidal, our trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386 via chat, or by texting START to 678678.

Fort Worth’s Joel Burns Revisits Viral ‘It Gets Better’ Moment

Joel Burns today and in 2010 as he gave his ‘It Gets Better’ speech (screen captures)

Taking part in the ’10 Years Better’ series from the It Gets Better Project, former Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns revisits the viral video of his city council meeting speech in October 2010 where he shared aspects of his young gay life and spoke out about LGBTQ bullying.

The new series features celebrities and everyday people who recorded It Gets Better videos early on, rewatching and reacting to their video. Host Emile Ennis Jr. speaks with guests about their life since — how it’s gotten better/evolved, and their message today for LGBTQ+ youth.

After video footage of his 2010 city council speech went viral, Burns found himself in the national spotlight regarding LGBTQ bullying and teen suicide.

Burns says he’s “still wowed that these few minutes have had this lasting impact some ten years later.”

As someone who grew up in Fort Worth, watching the speech – by the first man who had run for office as an openly gay man – had a powerful and very personal impact on me.

The morning of the city council meeting Burns read of 19-year-old Zach Harrington taking his own life in nearby Norman, Oklahoma, due to homophobic bullying.

Burns used his announcement time during that meeting to share some of his own coming out story (including being bullied in high school) and then segued to the growing epidemic of suicides by young LGBTQ people.

The 4-term city councilman’s prepared remarks originally included his own history with having had suicidal thoughts, but as he shares with Ennis Jr. in the video below, he stopped himself. “I realized, oh my god, my parents are probably watching this right now and I never told them I thought about committing suicide.”

While Burns was still in that council meeting, news outlets began reporting on his story.

Former Fort Worth city councilman Joel Burns (screen capture)

In the following days, he remembers thinking maybe 300 people might see the video. Then, the numbers climbed to 3,000, then 30,000, then 300,000 and eventually garnered over 3.1 million views on YouTube.

Burns says he received over 20,000 emails regarding the speech and countless letters. One letter was addressed simply to ‘Joel Burns, Fort Worth. Inside was a note on a torn piece of paper.

“This is what remains of the letter I wrote for my roommate to find with my body,” remembers Burns. “I happened upon your speech and I decided to burn the rest of it.”

“It’s a reminder that there’s a lot of pain experienced by people all over the world. And they need reminders like the It Gets Better Project gives them that things will, indeed, get a lot better.”

The It Gets Better Project began as a viral social media movement in 2010 and has grown to an organization with global affiliates across 17 countries and 4 continents.

You can watch Burns’ powerful 2010 speech below.

News Round-Up: December 14, 2017

Ben Cohen

Some news items you might have missed:

• Some #ThrowBackThursday action as I’m reminded of my major man crush on rugby champ and anti-bullying advocate Ben Cohen (above). Check out his 2018 charity calendar here.

• Researchers say having older brothers could increase the likelihood of being gay.

•  Failed Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore threw more anti-LGBT shade even as he refuses to concede his race to Democrat Doug Jones. Moore says he lost due to “sodomy” sweeping the nation.

• Just six months after legalizing same-sex marriage, Bermuda’s lawmakers have reversed course and outlawed marriage equality.

• Gay porn star sentenced to life in prison for “brutal and vicious” murder of his millionaire boyfriend.

Afterglow, the controversial off-Broadway hit one-act play, celebrates 200 performances tonight and has added a new block of tickets through March 2018.

Via press release: The play explores the emotional, intellectual, and physical connections between three men and the broader implications within their relationships.

The Advocate called the play “compelling and raw” and “not to be missed.”

Huffington Post wrote, “It’s clear Afterglow will be a must-see among New York theatergoers.”

Afterglow (photo: Mati Gelman)

Out Country Artists Drake Jensen & Patrick Masse Inspire With Upbeat “Go Your Own Way”

On my latest podcast for The Randy Report, I chat with Canada’s premier LGBT solo country artists, Drake Jensen & Patrick Masse, as they’ve teamed up to record an upbeat country song, “ Go Your Own Way” (not the Fleetwood Mac hit), meant to inspire young people who are bombarded with the message that they are “less than.”

The bright pop-country track has a liberating, anti-bullying message for young people in the closet; and also addresses the imaging in social media that perpetuates “perfection,” feeding a narrative that we aren’t good enough.

The press release for the single reads, “The fact is we can do something about it. We can go our own way.”

After just one week, “Go Your Own Way” has landed on the Top 10 Most Active Indies chart.

Jensen and Masse have also launched the “Go Your Own Way” Project on Facebook, a positive, interactive space encouraging folks to share photos and videos expressing how they “go their own way.”

It’s a case of Canadian East meets West as Jensen (from Ottowa) and Masse (from Vancouver) team up for to share a powerful, timely message.

Throughout the candid interview, both Jensen and Masse are refreshingly frank talking about bullying, collaboration within the LGBT community, the impact of religion on young LGBTs and more that motivated the two to record the country anthem.

Noting that bullying is especially rampant during school years for young LGBTs. I asked if either had experienced bullying themselves.

“I didn’t get to high school,” said Jensen. “I had a nervous breakdown when I was 15, and I locked myself in my room for six months. My last day of school was a flash mob beating that lasted about roughly a mile with two guys with boards with nails in them, and a crowd of people of about 75 that gathered around and followed while they bashed me. That was the last day. That was grade nine. There was no more school after that.”

But the story didn’t end there. “I’ve just recently connected with one of the guys that did that to me on Facebook. It was one of the most surreal things ever, you know? I sent him a message, and I said, ‘I see you have children. I hope they don’t suffer what I suffered at your hands.'”

Referring to his ‘Scars’ music video which includes statistics about childhood bullying, Jensen told the man, “Thank you very much, though – you’ve motivated me to do this and help thousands of people.” He says he’s forgiven the man who admitted facing his own demons, saying “the past is the past.”

Masse recalls how discussions with co-workers about religion moved him to raise his voice at an early age.

“I remember years ago I worked at a big hardware store in Canada called Canadian Tire, and it was one of the first jobs I had out of high school. I was working graveyards; we were doing store audits, and I was with this young girl. Her name was Teresa, and she was a daughter of a pastor, and I was probably the first gay person she ever met.”

“We would talk, she’d quote the Bible. She would quote this and quote that, and I said to her, ‘Well, Teresa, what do you think?’ She came back the next night, and said, ‘You know, you’re the first person, Patrick, who’s ever asked me what I think.’ I said, ‘Doesn’t that concern you Teresa? You’re 23 years old, and while there’s great lessons and values in the Bible, you can’t hide behind a Bible and use a Bible to judge other people.”

“Jesus only ever judged the hypocrites and the Pharisees in his lifetime,” adds Masse. “He wouldn’t be standing with you. He’d be walking with me because we’re all imperfect people here. It’s exciting to see that there are true Christians out there that are coming around. I think people are realizing people are people and everybody needs love, right? Everybody needs acceptance.”

I loved talking with these two great artists.

Hit the link above for the interview and to hear “Go Your Own Way.”

Out Music: Ty Herndon “Fighter”

Out country star Ty Herndon shares the music video for his new single, “Fighter,” from his album House On Fire with this warning via Facebook:

WARNING- The version of this video contains strong and disturbing images. I wanted to share this version of the video #FIGHTER with you guys. We did this powerful imagery for my performance The Trevor Project Trevor Live. Some of you may find it disturbing. I know i certainly did. Most of you know me as a country singer. I am also a man who believes in the power of love not hate. And I often sing about it. When I was first approached about using these images, I rejected it. Then after much thought and prayer I realized that this is the truth for many young LGBTQ youth in the world today. I see it often when I travel around making appearances for organizations like GLAAD Human Rights Campaign LA Pride Dallas Pride & so many more. It is my greatest prayer that we can all stand together and love one another- No matter what color or shape our spots are. I know this one fact clearly- from my own journey- None of us are perfect. As my Maw Maw use to say, We are all just beautiful messes. So be strong and journey on with a big open heart – And pay it forward with grace- knowledge and love. Just a reminder that all proceeds from the download of this song go towards The Trevor Project.

Ty’s new album, House On Fire, available here.

I previously shared the first single from the album, “That Kind of Night,” here. It was also one of my Top 5 LGBT songs of 2016.

Spirit Day 2016

Spirit Day began in 2010 as a way to show support for LGBTQ youth and take a stand against bullying. Following a string of high-profile suicide deaths of gay teens in 2010, GLAAD worked to involve millions of teachers, workplaces, celebrities, media outlets and students in going purple on social media or wearing purple, a color that symbolizes spirit on the rainbow flag.

Spirit Day now occurs every year on the third Thursday in October, during National Bullying Prevention Month, and has become the most visible day of support for LGBTQ youth.

This year GLAAD will celebrate Spirit Day on October 20 where we will all stand together; communities, corporations, celebrities, landmarks, faith groups, sports leagues, schools and so much more, to send a message of solidarity and acceptance to LGBTQ youth.

An amazing teenager, Brittany McMillan, wanted to remember those young people who lost their lives to suicide and to take a stand against bullying.

Students, schools, organizations, corporations, media professionals, celebrities, parents and many more. Everyone from Oprah to Cher to Facebook and MTV have gone purple for Spirit Day. Even the White House has joined the cause!

So, click over to GLAAD, change your pic to purple and get your grape on today remembering how we need to stand up to bullying.

Hillary Clinton Goes Purple For Spirit Day

Current Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton went purple today on Twitter in honor of Spirit Day.

Spirit Day began in 2010 as a way to show support for LGBT youth and take a stand against bullying.

After several high-profile suicide deaths of gay teens in 2010, GLAAD worked to involve millions of teachers, workplaces, celebrities, media outlets and students in going purple on social media or wearing purple, a color that symbolizes spirit on the rainbow flag.

Spirit Day is observed on the third Thursday in October. So, get out your purple and support efforts to end bullying of young LGBTs!

More info on Spirit Day over at GLAAD’s website.