While there were many memes born from the inauguration of US President Joe Biden on 20 January, none have proven as prolific as Bernie…
Set to the haunting Breathe Me by Australian pop-singer Sia, a then-13 year old Mowry — silent throughout — displays a series of flashcards in the 4min long video titled “What’s goin on..”.
Mowry tells of how since he started school, he has faced taunts, jibes, and homophobic slurs from bullying schoolmates.”Gay. Fag. Dick. Douche. Homo. Asshole,” Mowry writes explaining the hurtful names he’s been called throughout his school career.
He goes on to say the stresses from this led to him self-harming by cutting himself since the second grade (7-8 years old).
“Suicide was an option many times”, a flashcard says, before confessing his fear of entering the 8th grade. This fear was exacerbated by the fact that all his close friends, bar one, were going onto high school, Mowry wrote in a flashcard.
By the end of the video, a weeping Mowry promises that even though he’s “tired of being torn down, I’m not going anywhere, because I am stronger than that and I have a million reasons to be here”.
The video, and Mowry himself, have garnered widespread support and praise from gay rights activists and celebrities.
Lady Gaga, who has strongly supported the fight for equal civil rights for the LGBT community, tweeted a message of support saying, “Thank you Jonah for being brave enough to share your story + showing us strength. You matter to millions”. Openly gay pop singer and gay civil rights activist Ricky Martin, also tweeted a message of support directly to Mowry saying “Stay strong buddy! You are 1 courageous young man!!!”
Another openly gay star, Glee’s Jane Lynch echoed the sentiments of many who watched the video tweeting, “I want to wrap Jonah up in my arms. I believe love has the power to travel through space and time. Let’s send some to Jonah”.
Some have, however, tried to mire the video in controversy, claiming its a hoax.
Tracked down by American news outlet ABC News, Mowry’s mother, Peggy Sue Mowry — who first saw the video in December — rubbishes these claims. “First and foremost, I am proud of the responses we’ve gotten from people,” she said. “I’m disappointed that people would question whether it’s true.”
After the video went viral, Mowry updated the explanation to the video saying he’d first made it for his friends who then convinced him to take it public.
Mowry, now happy and doing well, writes:
I never expected in a million years that it would have such a wonderful impact on so many people. I am truly humbled and truly thankful for all the love, encouragement and support from people all over the world. It’s been incredibly overwhelming. I don’t know what to say. Thank you so, so much!
Last year, after the tragic suicide of gay teen Tyler Clementi, which was then followed by a horrifying spate of US teens commiting suicide as a result of homophobic bullying, a highly successful YouTube campaign was launched telling gay and otherwise-bullied youths, “It Gets Better“.
Image: Michael Verhoef