After a gay kid opened up on Facebook about his fear of what his future held, the Internet exploded with encouragement, and even Hillary Clinton and Ellen DeGeneres weighed in. (Photo: Humans of New York/Facebook)
Mean-spirited trolls and bullies have given social media a nasty reputation. But sometimes a post goes crazy viral and reveals just how encouraging and inspiring the internet can be.
Case in point: a recent post on the Facebook page of Humans of New York, a site that features photos and short interviews with local citizens who reveal their thoughts. On July 2, an image of a distraught, unnamed kid sitting on a stoop near tears went up with this caption: “I’m homosexual and I’m afraid about what my future will be and that people won’t like me.“
Something about this post touched a nerve with readers — maybe it was the photo of a kid on the brink of tears, or perhaps it was the sense of despair behind the quote, a reminder that LGBT youths still have it rough, even with the Supreme Court victory that just affirmed the right of same-sex couples to marry in every state.
Whatever it was, the post instantly went viral. After briefly being removed by Facebook (a Facebook rep said it was an accident triggered by a computer bug), the teen’s post has since racked up an incredible 624,000 likes and 59,000 shares.
Among the more than 57,000 comments are some encouraging words from one of the most famous women in the world: Hillary Clinton. The Democratic presidential candidate, who has put support of marriage equality and LGBT rights in the forefront of her campaign, wrote, "Prediction from a grown-up: Your future is going to be amazing. You will surprise yourself with what you’re capable of and the incredible things you go on to do. Find the people who love and believe in you — there will be lots of them.”
Ellen DeGeneres also left a comment reflecting her own brand of motivation. “Not only will people like you, they’ll love you. I just heard of you and I love you already.” Clinton’s comment itself garnered 75,000 likes, while DeGeneres’s has racked up 30,000 likes.
But perhaps the most inspiring comments came from Humans of New York readers, who offered encouragement every kid can use about self-acceptance, pride, and a world that’s finally coming around to being inclusive of all kinds of sexuality.
“If you were my son, I’d love you just the same and I’d be the proudest dad for having the courage to admit it to yourself and the world,” wrote Louis M. Zanetti on July 4. “Never be afraid of what others think,” wrote Bailey Jankowski on July 3.
And Brandi Busse put it best with this comment on July 3: “All the people you need in your life will love and support you. If anyone doesn’t like you based on your sexuality, they don’t deserve to be in your life anyway. … Our society is changing and you will get the respect and love you deserve.”