This year has been a rough one as we've had to come to terms with the deadly consequences of teen bullying. On Wednesday, Dec. 29, "The Nate Berkus Show" dedicates an hour to Seth Walsh, the 13-year-old Tehachapi, Calif. boy who killed himself after relentless bullying, because he was gay.
"I knew that I wanted to do a show that celebrates Seth's life," Nate Berkus tells Zap2it. "One of the many things that I was very touched by was [Seth's mother] Wendy's immediate acceptance of him. From the minute he told her he was gay, she said, 'I know. I love you. Don't worry.' This was the story of a child who had the support of his family, but it was a very painful hour."
Both Seth's mother, Wendy Walsh, and his younger brother, 11-year-old Shawn, join Nate to remember Seth's life and discuss how we can avoid another tragedy like his.
"[Shawn has] been put in a position in which he had to grow up very, very quickly," Berkus says. "And the hope I have for children is that they're protected from the reality of life as long as possible. Seth's brother had to come to terms with a very real tragedy at a very young age."
Berkus has a few surprises in store for the Walsh family. The designer has redesigned the youth lounge at YESS, an LGBT community center in New York City, which has been named in Seth's honor. And country music star, Chely Wright, who publicly came out earlier this year, will be there to unveil the new space.
"I just wanted the place to feel finished and feel permanent," the designer says. "I think in a lot of these centers around the country, the last thing they can spend money on is furniture and decoration, because they have to allocate every dollar to actually providing their services to the community."
The surprises don't stop there, but we'll let you tune in to find out what they are. It promises to be a very touching hour and Berkus has no shortage of passion for the subject.
"I wish we didn't need a center and the funding to create a haven for a certain type of child, so they could feel safe," he tells us. "How is that possible with all of our education and our collective knowledge in our society that we have to create a building that children can go to, because they're gay? My goal is that they won't be necessary for long. But, unfortunately, they're very necessary right now."