Jonah Mowry, a bullied eighth-grader who shared a video on YouTube describing his pain and perseverance through difficult times, has had to face criticism after widespread public responsiveness.
The original video was posted four months ago in August 2011 and features Mowry describing his struggles on a series of cue cards. The young boy remains silent throughout the powerful and emotional video titled Whats goin on. His story is expressed through written words and the song Breathe Me by Sia.
Mowry's video went viral after being picked up and promoted by celebrity blogger Perez Hilton. Hilton, who advocates on behalf of LGBT rights and anti-bullying campaigns, posted Mowry's video on Web site.
Some have spoken out against Mowry after seeing a second follow-up video on YouTube. They accuse him of being a fraud and making exaggerated claims for publicity.
The follow-up video, originally posted by Mowry (which he deleted, but was re-uploaded by another YouTube user) shows a happier Mowry than the one in the Whats goin on video. In the follow-up, Mowry sits on a bed with a friend talking to the camera. He says now almost my entire school loves me. The individual who uploaded it points out that Mowry laughs and chews gum obnoxiously during the video, entitled (HAI DAIR) Jonah Mowry lied? You decide.
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View the follow-up video embedded below.
Now, family, friends and Perez Hilton are coming to Mowry's defense.
I'm disappointed that somebody could look at the first video and then look at the second and think it's a lie, Jonah's mother, Peggy Sue Mowry, told ABC News.
He's a child. He's a 14-year-old boy. He's very young.
Peggy Sue, a 52-year-old hairdresser from Lake Forest, Calif., said that her son has truly been uplifted by all of the support.
I'm thankful. There are a lot of people that are giving their warm wishes and uplifting Jonah, and I think that's good.
Friends and celebrities alike have taken to Twitter to support Jonah and commend him for his bravery.
People are haters. Its not often sm1 will make themslvs [sic] so vulnerable @JonahMowryReal did. Haters get a clue spread love be proud of him posted on user.
Ricky Martin tweeted: Sending @JonahMowryReal one big rib breaking hug :0) ! Stay strong buddy! You are 1 courageous young man!!! Remember #LoveConquersHate!
In defending Mowry against the allegations of fraud, Perez Hilton posted on his blog a piece entitled Real or Fake? The TRUTH About Jonah Mowry's Video!
Hilton provides a link to the boy's old Formspring account, a social network that is currently popular with adolescents. On the site, Mowry posted an answer to a seemingly general question.
Question What is your main goal for this school year?
Answer Make it through alive. (im serious)
The post was written back in August. Hilton provides it as proof that Mowry was truly struggling and that the suicidal thoughts he discussed in his YouTube video were genuine.
Thankfully Jonah HAS made it through alive, as the school year has progressed. Thankfully he HAS made friends and is happier. And, yes, thankfully he's getting some much needed counseling, wrote Hilton.
Advocacy groups have also come out in support of Mowry and his bravery.
This YouTube video illustrates a sobering reality about the bullying crisis in our schools, said Andy Marra, spokesman for the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), to ABC News. 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.
According to GLSEN, teen bullying has reached epic proportions, particularly for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth. They report that nine out of 10 LGBT students experienced harassment at school this past year.
For some of them, that harassment proves to be far too exasperating to continue living.
Mowry was not the first gay youth to post an emotion-filled YouTube video about bullying. Jamey Rodemeyer contributed a video to the It Gets Better campaign but unfortunately his troubles proved too difficult. The 14-year-old from NY killed himself in mid-September after facing years of torment from classmates.
Rodemeyer received recognition from Lady Gaga, who is an advocate for the LGBT community.
After his death, the singer tweeted messages like, bullying must become illegal. It is a hate crime, the past days I've spent reflecting, crying, and yelling. I have so much anger. It is hard to feel love when cruelty takes someone's life, and I am meeting with our President. I will not stop fighting. This must end. Our generation has the power to end it.