He told the story of the young men who’ve taken their lives in recent weeks and followed with a tear-jerking story of how he felt growing up and feeling different from everyone else. He skipped a part of his speech, where assumingly he would have spoken about his desire to take his own life as a young boy, but soldiered on bravely, fighting tears in front of his peers and fellow elected officials to tell his story.
“If I could, I would take the 13 year old me by the hand and take him to the campaign office in 1992 of then-Governor Clinton, where for a very speechless moment – my now-partner JD Angle and I saw each other for the first time. I would take that 13 year old me to the first day of Spring in 1999 on a West Texas ranch hilltop surrounded by a dozen head of black angus cattle who thought we were there to feed and as the sun set turning the sky pink and purple and orange in a way that only a west Texas sunset can, I jabbed my hands into my jeans pocket and pulled out two rings I’d literally spent my last dollar on and slipped one onto JD’s hand and asked him to spend the rest of his life with me.
I would take the 13 year old Joel to election night in 2007 in a room filled with countless family and friends – erupting in cheers when it became cleer that I’d win my first election. So that they could see the love and support for me that was in the room that night.
I would take the 13 year old me to just a few days ago to Baylor Hospital to see our Dad. Our Dad who is no longer the 40 year old tough cowboy that he was when I was 13, who I thought would never understand me, but is now the 67 year old dad (still pretty tough cowboy) who has grown older and the 13 year old me would see me today holding my Dad’s weathered hand…and see him squeeze my hand and look up to me and say “Joel, I’m so glad you’re here today” and me say back to my Dad, “I am too…I am too.””