Comedian Rick Mercer has joined a viral campaign that encourages young gays and lesbians to overcome bullying.
Journalist Dan Savage launched the It Gets Better campaign in September after several gay teens committed suicide after they were harassed or humiliated. Dozens of other individuals and groups have followed suit, with encouraging messages about overcoming homophobia.
A video for It Gets Better Canada is scheduled to be released Tuesday night on YouTube.
Mercer, who grew up gay outside St. John's, contributed a rant he recorded for The Rick Mercer Report in November 2007 when a gay Ontario youth killed himself after being taunted by bullies.
"I remember thinking, 'If I'd only had a chance to talk to him, I could have stopped it,'" Mercer said in an interview Tuesday. "It's unfortunate that [the 2007 video is] still appropriate in 2010."
Mercer says he avoided being bullied by keeping a low profile in school.
Nonetheless, he said he has enormous sympathy for gay teenagers who are coping with huge pressure.
"Yes, it gets better … but I also understand that saying to a 15-year-old that, 'Oh, don't worry, just wait a year, is like saying 'Wait a lifetime,'" he said.
"But every single person has the right to go to school and not be afraid."
Mercer said his advice to young gays is to find a sympathetic ear from a counsellor or an adult. He said gay teens are often surprised to find adult support.
"The vast majority of people are decent people and won't stand for this type of behaviour. You have to shed light on it," he said.