Many, many moons ago I sat in the dark of the LSPU Hall in St. John’s watching a young man (then part of a comedy group called Corey and Wade’s Playhouse) pretend to commit suicide in a giant garbage bag. It was love at first sight and oddly enough I knew he’d go far.
Fast forward a couple of decades and you’d be hard pressed to find a Canadian who doesn’t know and love him and as for Newfoundlanders, we’d probably sell him the island for a dollar and let him run it however he saw fit. He’s so famous now that I wouldn’t dare write a book as a Newfoundlander and not mention him (“We are famous for our ranting and roaring, well Rick Mercer is famous for it …”).
He hosts a weekly political comedy show called The Mercer Report which sees him doing everything from convincing former premiers to go skinny dipping with him to making sandwiches in the Prime Minister’s kitchen (with the Prime Minister of course).
But the best thing he does is a segment called his ‘Rant’. He walks through a graffiti lined alley and lets ‘er rip on whatever happens to be getting his goat at the moment. He’s always manages to be humourous and ironic yet never fails to shoot through the rhetoric and hit the bullseye of common sense; serving up a barrage of health food disguised as a double chocolate donut. And yesterday I caught his latest on You Tube and I am compelled to share it here. I’ll tell you why after you’ve seen it.
See this is more than a rant. This is a call to arms. Yes Rick is talented, brilliant, successful and gorgeous with a head of hair that would make any man weep with envy. He also happens to be gay. He has been part of the It Gets Better Campaign in Canada to help teens for some time but now, in typical Newfie style, he’s dialing it up a notch. And friggin’ good on him I say.
I need to talk about this today because what used to be my job remains my passion, youth in crisis. I need to do this here today because 300 kids are merely the tip of an enormous iceberg. This number doesn’t include the thousands who attempt suicide or engage in self harming behaviour, the thousands and thousands more who live their daily lives in terror and misery. I know because I lived my daily life sitting across from them as did Rick’s own sister, a social worker and mental health program administrator and a former colleague of mine.
The point is simply this. You may think you know the scope of this problem but you don’t. There is just no way to describe the horrors faced so bravely by these kids, gay or not. I was bullied in school for being different and to be sure it was no fun but the torment that goes on today is nothing short of an atrocity. I know the Jamie Hubleys of this world too well and the tragedy of it all is beyond my words. Thankfully they are not beyond Mr. Mercer’s. I have always loved Rick because he was our funny favourite son but now my admiration has taken a turn for the serious.
So get off your arse and join this fight any way you can. I’m not preaching at you, I’m just taking a cue from a hero of mine and saying like it is.