Gay Teen Jonah Mowry Says Bullying Made Him Stronger
Jonah Mowry, the 14-year-old whose heart-wrenching four-month-old YouTube video described his despair at being bullied for being gay, resurfaced online Sunday, telling his supporters he is doing just fine.
Jonah, chewing gum and with a female friend by his side, says on a more recent YouTube video, “To the people who think nobody likes me … Everyone in my school loves me.”
Controversy has swirled around the videos this week, with some posting online their suspicions that the boy is a “fraud,” but ABCNews.com has learned today that Jonah is real.
“First and foremost, I am proud of the responses we’ve gotten from people,” said Peggy Sue Mowry, a hairdresser from Forest Lake, Calif. “I’m disappointed that people would question whether it’s” true.”
She said her son had been “uplifted by the outpouring of support.”
Advocacy groups praised Jonah for speaking out against bullying.
“This YouTube video illustrates a sobering reality about the bullying crisis in our schools,” said Andy Marra, spokesman for Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). ”We know there are far too many students like Jonah that experience harassment simply because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.”
In August Jonah posted a YouTube video titled, “Whats going on…” [sic] as Sia’s “Breathe Me” plays in the background. Crying and using a series of note cards, the boy says, “I’ve cut…a lot. I have scars. Suicide was an option…many times.”
He said he had been bullied since first grade and had first begun cutting himself in the second grade. Last August, when the video was made, Jonah was about the enter eighth grade.
The boy, who displays numerous scars in the video, claims he has sustained insults of, “Gay. Fag. D**k. Douche. Homo. A**hole.” His video ends optimistically: “I’m not going anywhere, because I’m stronger than that. I have a million reasons to be here.”
A Facebook page, dedicated to Jonah’s cause says, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
The video has gone viral, eliciting support from celebrities like gay singer Ricky Martin and blogger Perez Hilton.
Martin tweets: “one big rib breaking hug :0) ! Stay strong buddy! You are 1 courageous young man!!!”
Hilton said he has been in touch with Jonah via Twitter and the teen’s “optimism in the face of adversity is so inspiring!” He writes that he has invited the boy to an all-expense paid birthday party for the blog in March.
“He is so touched by all the love being sent his way,” blogs Hilton. ” He tells us he is truly in a much better place. Happier and with friends that care! Plus, he is also getting some counseling – something we’d recommend to anyone going through difficult times.”
Teen bullying has reached epidemic proportions and several young children have been so anguished they have killed themselves.
Nearly 9 out of 10 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students experienced harassment at school in the past year, according to GLSEN. All students deserve the right to reach their full potential and it is the responsibility of school staff to ensure safe learning environments for all that promote true respect for difference, the group says.
Just last year Phoebe Prince, a 15-year-old Irish immigrant, was found dead in her South Hadley, Mass., home after suffering incessant Facebook taunts.
Earlier this year, Jamey Rodemeyer, a 14-year-old from Buffalo, N.Y., took his own life after he was bullied online with gay slurs for more than a year. His death prompted Lady Gaga to express outrage over relentless torment social networking site.