Savage’s “It Gets Better” Movement Gains Momentum

As many of you already know, it’s been a heartbreaking month in the US for the LGBTQIA community. The tragic story of 18-year old Rutgers student, Tyler Clementi, who jumped off the George Washington Bridge to his death, is the most high profile in a series of suicides in recent weeks of young people believed to have victims of anti-gay bullying and outright hate crimes. There was Billy Lucas, 15 years old, who hanged himself in a barn in Greensburg, Ind. Asher Brown, 13, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head in Houston, TX. Seth Walsh in Tehachapi, CA, also 13, hanged himself from a tree in his backyard. Of course, those are only recent deaths we’ve heard about.

Writer, educator and activist Dan Savage wrote this for his Savage Love column late last month:

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 here’s what you can do, GBVWS: Make a video. Tell them it gets better.

Since September 23rd, when Savage posted that initial video of himself and his husband Terry telling their stories and urging kids to hang in there, the “It Gets Better” video outreach project has been growing in leaps and bounds, gaining coverage, support and involvement from all over the place, including NPR, the ACLU, and hundreds of vloggers on YouTube. On Thursday, Ellen Degeneres aired her own “It Gets Better” segment and updated an End Bullying page on her website.

This wonderful project was launched specifically to help LGBTQI youth get through the hard times, but as many participants have noted, it’s a sentiment that can be applied more broadly to freaks, geeks, weirdos, outcasts and oddballs of all stripes. Hang in there, kittens. It really does get better. Meantime, there are tons of resources to tap into: The Trevor Project, Scarleteen, We Give a Damn, We Are The Youth, I’m From Driftwood, PFLAG, We’ve Got Your Back, and a wide assortment of National Crisis Hotlines, for starters. You are not alone.

To share your story of how you got through the rough shit and how life really, truly did get better, create your video, post it to YouTube, and send the URL to mail (at) savagelove.net. They’ll review it and post it to their FAVES section. Bless you, Dan Savage. You’re a mensch.

14 Responses to “Savage’s “It Gets Better” Movement Gains Momentum”

  1. Lulu Says:

    Ahhh, Coilhouse too! Now I’m all weepy again today :”) *sniff*

    Dan Savage: now made with 50% more post-consumer hero!

  2. Lulu Says:

    Also, don’t forget the Give A Damn Campaign, which is focusing on queer suicide this month.
    The Damn Website:
    http://www.wegiveadamn.org/

  3. Mer Says:

    Ah, good suggestion, Lulu! Adding it to the list.

  4. selizabeth Says:

    What a wonderful thing to wake up and watch. The video of course, not the horrific data on the victimized young people. I live practically right now the street from Rutgers and had read of that poor young man yesterday, I think, or the day before. Heartbreaking. It absolutely did not have to happen.

    I am simultaneously bawling and inspired and making frantic “you-have-to-see-this” phone calls .

  5. It Gets Better. Says:

    [...] Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” video campaign has been in the news these past couple of days. The campaign was created in [...]

  6. Asher Says:

    While I appreciate what Dan Savage is doing with this, it is hard for me to overlook how fail-filled he can be, especially with regard to rape survivors and trans people.

  7. Mer Says:

    Asher, I understand the mixed opinion, and I agree that Savage can sometimes be fail-filled. For me, it’s mostly in an eye-rolling/bitter laugh-inducing sort of way, but once in a while, I’ll get seriously fucked off and end up yelling “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING, DUDE” at my computer screen. This is the first time I can remember that I’ve wanted to hug the guy.

  8. alumiere Says:

    Another site that’s currently looking for submissions is http://wegotyourbackproject.wordpress.com/2010/09/30/call-for-submissions/

    Especially given Dan Savage’s attitude toward bisexual, trans-gender and trans-sexual members of the spectrum they are trying to reach out to as many people as possible. They are also hoping to reach a more diverse audience in terms of race, religion, nationality, etc.

  9. Nicki Says:

    Join Michael and Marisa in the “It Gets Better” campaign to STOP bullying. The sibling music duo urge their peers to stand up against bullying with their acoustic song “The Same.” http://bit.ly/bwXTg0

  10. Diana Scholl Says:

    Thanks for highlighting the “We Are the Youth” project. Anyone interested in telling your story, please contact hello@wearetheyouth.org, or just visit the site to see the incredible stories of queer youth today.

  11. Mer Says:

    @Alumiere thanks for that link to We’ve Got Your Back, much appreciated! I’ve added it to the resources list in the post above, and also amended my own initial statement to read LGBTQIA.

  12. Pity Party Says:

    For those of us outside the realm of the gender bianary, radical queers and lumpenproletariats, it doesn’t get better, you just get tougher. Discrimination and ignorance simply become perpetuated after the petri dish of high school. It might have gotten better for Dan Savage, but it’s not getting any better for the po’ass genderfucks.

  13. tjewell Says:

    You do, however, get more control over the aspects of your life that that are in your hands. After 18, parents no longer have as much legal control and one can move the f*** away from that town to somewhere more open where one can find like minds and other protesters. It doesn’t make the world itself better and I suppose you could write it off as pulling a geographical, but it can make living worth doing. The queer kids and other outsiders did this for quite a while before pooling enough to break through normative ice. I’m not arguing that this is what it should take, just that it *does* have the potential to get better after high school/18, and that basing expectations of the future on what it’s like during that time isn’t useful.

  14. Patrick Says:

    Join Michael and Marisa in the “It Gets Better” campaign to STOP bullying. The pre-teen sibling music duo share and urge their peers to stand up against bullying with their acoustic song “The Same.”

    http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-500234

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