Ten things I’ve learned from Jonah Mowry

Note: three months ago, a young man named Jonah Mowry posted a video online. He used one of my favourite songs to underscore his emotional confession. Thankfully, this video has just recently gone viral.

  1. Life is tough. It’s tough when you’re a teen, it’s tough when you’re an adult. Sometimes accepting that and really feeling it is enough to keep going.
  2. It is brave just to be gay in high school. It is unbelievably brave to come out to the whole world. I had a hard enough time talking about masturbation when I was 14. Which, as it turns out, EVERYBODY DOES ALL THE TIME.
  3. Many celebrities feel that their fame does not carry with it an inherent responsibility. Look at Jonah Mowry’s Twitter feed. Acknowledgment and support from Rosie O’Donnell, Perez Hilton, and Jane Lynch have made an incredible difference for him. So incredible, in fact, that it could be argued that it has helped to save his life…or at the very least, given him something to be proud of. Responsibility is not inherent in celebrity necessarily, but just remember how little you have to do to make a huge impact on someone’s life.
  4. There is nothing popular online that doesn’t have its detractors. If you had a video of a kitten playing with a baby, you would have kitten haters and baby haters writing nasty comments. If you had a video of a cube, doing nothing, you would have pyramid enthusiasts yelling in the comments. There are people who hate all of us out there, and there are people we hate. It might be hurtful at times, but it is balanced out by the people who love you, and the people you love.
  5. I remember friends I had in high school who cut themselves, and I remember how ill-equipped I was to help them in any way. Adolescents are narcissists; it is very difficult to think outside of your own issues and empathize, because you are so awkward and uncomfortable and unhappy and confused. It’s hard to go to your friends when you need help. The internet easily connects adolescents with experts who can help. And with other people who are going through what you are going through. You can’t always trust everything you find online, but it is sure better than the limited options we had when I was in high school.
  6. It really does get better. Then maybe it gets bad for a while. Then it gets better again.
  7. I would like to think I was cool with every kid when I was a teenager, but I wasn’t. I had my own issues, my own insecurities. I never called anybody a racial or homophobic epithet, and I wasn’t a bully. But I could have reached out more. I could have been more there for kids who were having a tough time fitting in.
  8. As a teen, some of my happiest moments were sitting around in a basement, being a dumb weirdo with my friends, making dirty jokes, and watching movies. I think I took that time for granted; having that circle of friends through high school was more than many kids get.
  9. I feel like modern teenagers are celebrating difference and diversity more than they ever have. Being weird, being gay, being black, being nerdy…it’s all part of the spectrum of being an individual. I believe Jonah subconsciously felt this when he posted his video. It was an act of faith, but he knew that there were other people out there just like him. And he was absolutely right.
  10. I don’t know Jonah Mowry at all. I don’t know where he lives, I don’t know what he’s like to speak with. I bet he is just a growing dude. Who likes Katy Perry. And Pizza Hut. Or whatever kids these days like. Hannah Montana? I don’t know. Twilight. That’s a thing, right? If I met Jonah, we might not even like each other (we probably would, unless he is really into Twilight), because I don’t hang out with teenagers for the most part. I don’t get them. They are smelly, and they like crappy movies and loud music. What I do know is that Jonah Mowry has the right to be a smelly teenager who watches Twilight and listens to Hannah Montana without being made to feel like shit. It’s not asking a lot to want to live a ‘normal’ life. To hang out with your dumb friends and make dirty jokes. To lipsynch to a Top 40 song with your friend. To go home and not want to kill or harm yourself. Whether he knew it or not, Jonah gave a voice to a lot of kids out there who feel isolated, depressed, or helpless. That’s a hell of an achievement for an eighth-grader. Even if he does like Twilight.

1 Comment

Filed under tenthingsivelearned, Uncategorized

One response to “Ten things I’ve learned from Jonah Mowry

  1. LJ

    This is a prevalent issue in schools and always has been. A truly powerful message. I’ve been on both sides of the debate, and I wouldn’t want to repeat either. On a do-over I’d probably do my best to be the “Grey Man” in school.

    There is some debate now to whether he made this as a publicity stunt, or four months later (when his next video was uploaded and then deleted) that his video had the desired effect and he stopped getting bullied and his life improved (dramatically).

    Hope the link works. Regardless of whether he “faked” the video bullying is still an issue that needs to be addressed and dealt with in all levels of the education system and workplace.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s