The Late Movies: It Gets Better
Just a few weeks ago, writer Dan Savage started the "It Gets Better" Project with this video. The video was a response to a series of gay teens committing suicide across the nation; Savage finally decided to do something about it. On September 23, he wrote this:
Billy Lucas was just 15 when he hanged himself in a barn on his grandmother's property. He reportedly endured intense bullying at the hands of his classmates--classmates who called him a fag and told him to kill himself. His mother found his body.
Nine out of 10 gay teenagers experience bullying and harassment at school, and gay teens are four times likelier to attempt suicide. Many LGBT kids who do kill themselves live in rural areas, exurbs, and suburban areas, places with no gay organizations or services for queer kids.
"My heart breaks for the pain and torment you went through, Billy Lucas," a reader wrote after I posted about Billy Lucas to my blog. "I wish I could have told you that things get better."
I had the same reaction: I wish I could have talked to this kid for five minutes. I wish I could have told Billy that it gets better. I wish I could have told him that, however bad things were, however isolated and alone he was, it gets better.
But gay adults aren't allowed to talk to these kids. Schools and churches don't bring us in to talk to teenagers who are being bullied. Many of these kids have homophobic parents who believe that they can prevent their gay children from growing up to be gay--or from ever coming out--by depriving them of information, resources, and positive role models.
Why are we waiting for permission to talk to these kids? We have the ability to talk directly to them right now. We don't have to wait for permission to let them know that it gets better. We can reach these kids.
So Savage put up a video with his husband talking about their experience growing up, and what their lives are like now. Savage invited others to make videos, and their YouTube channel now has dozens (hundreds?) of videos from regular LGBT people telling their stories. Celebrities are also getting involved. The videos have been viewed millions of times, and the project is getting national attention -- Savage was on NPR's All Things Considered yesterday. Here are some particularly powerful videos. There are many, many more.
I found this video incredibly moving. Tim Gunn is best known for his work on the TV show Project Runway, and he rarely speaks about his personal life. Well, this is about as personal as it gets.
Christian and Gay
A church retreat group explain their experience on how it gets better:
Tons of people from San Francisco explain how it gets better:
It Gets Better in ASL
There are a bunch of "It Gets Better" videos for and by the deaf. If you don't know ASL, here's a transcript:
Hi there. So, you're worried about people abusing you because you're gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. Stop fretting. Life will get better. IT GETS BETTER. How do I know? I'm a lesbian, married for 12 years. When I was little, I was bullied a lot. In elementary school, I experienced so much abuse because of my age - I was young and small and I was teased all the time. I had no friends - seriously zero - NO friends. And I can't imagine now how I survived that life. But I DID. The hardest part of surviving bullying is suriving with your self esteem intact. That is the most important thing. Because if someone is telling you every day how bad you are, you're the devil, you're going to hell, that really hurts a person. Especially for youth or teens. That can be very painful. And that will continue for a long time. But again, life will get better. IT GETS BETTER. That's the most important message. If you can hang in there now - talk to a counselor, family, friends, someone - do whatever you have to to find support and help. Also you can visit websites that can help you help yourself, and how to get through bullying. I suggest you search google and find information about bullying and PLEASE remember that life will get better. I know it seems so hard now. I remember my life seemed like every day was more bullying. But here I am, age 30, and life is pretty great. So I ask you, please be patient, look for help, you can contact many people on the intrenet, through videophone, you CAN find help. Don't suffer alone. Don't kill yourself, because life will get better. And if you're not here to see that, everything will be for nothing. Please be patient. You will survive. IT GETS BETTER.
Author Greg Gerard shares his story:
Chris Colfer, who plays Kurt Hummel on the TV show Glee, shares a brief message:
TV personality, comedian, and actor Dave Holmes talks about his experience growing up gay in the midwest:
Neil Patrick Harris
"When you get older, you find that people are actually drawn towards individuals with different points of view, who are proud of who they are, and who make interesting and different and unique choices for them. At least I am."
Dan and Terry
The video that started it all.
A Personal Message
I've thought hard about whether to post these videos, out of fear that this post would be a target for fights in the comments (the YouTube comments on these videos range from very supportive to very mean -- in many cases the comments have been disabled or moderated). But in the end, I feel that the videos speak for themselves. Please comment if you like, and please keep it civil. If you don't, I'll just disable comments for this post. I sure hope I don't have to do that.
If you're personally in crisis, I urge you to check out The Trevor Project. There's 24/7 help available.