… I promise you, it gets better.”
It’s difficult to think that such a simple phrase could be so profound and evoke such emotion from so many people. Whenever I think of it, or hear it, or say it, I am slightly overcome with emotion. And if you are familiar with where it came from, I have a feeling that you do to0.
The tagline comes from the It Gets Better Project, launched by gay writer and media pundit Dan Savage, known best for his column “Savage Love.” Dan Savage launched the project after a series of gay teens committed suicide after suffering bullying in their schools and communities. It all started as a simple video from Dan Savage with the promise that no matter how hard life may seem right now that it. gets. better.
Since the initial video launched, It Gets Better videos have been made by people such as President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, Neil Patrick Harris, Ellen, employees from Google and Facebook, other celebrities and even Jersey Shore’s Vinny Guadagnino. These videos have gone a long way to show these young adults that they are not alone, their experiences are not singular and that there are people who have been there and survived and that it does indeed, get better.
Last Wednesday was Spirit Day organized by GLAAD, where it was encouraged that people wear the color purple, the part of the GLBTA rainbow that represents spirit, in support of the cause and in remembrance of the young adults that took their lives. I saw a lot of purple that day and it made me proud and feel supported as a gay man. Some people just happened to wear purple that day, not knowing the meaning, but were proud to show their support when I told them what it meant. And there were many straight allies that were aware of the meaning and proudly pointed to their purple clothing to show their support.
Also doing great work is The Trevor Project, a project started by the director and producers of Trevor, a 1994 film about a gay youth named Trevor who attempts to take his own life. The Trevor Project provides a 24 hour crisis and suicide prevention hotline as well as the website which provides online resources. Recently Broadway performers came together to perform “It Gets Better”, a song written specifically in reaction to the recent gay suicides. It’s a great song, made even better that my friend Ray Lee from high school is in the video.
On 10/20/10, Stonewall Columbus held a candlelight vigil for the victims in Goodale Park. Attendance was phenomenal and it brought a lot of deserved attention to the issue throughout the city. The following day, our Dean, Christine Poon, sent out an e-mail showing her and Fisher’s support for the issue, promoted the fact that October is LGBT History Month and listed some of the university resources available to deal with these issues.
I had a relatively easy time growing up as a gay teen. While my hometown was somewhat conservative, growing up in the DC area, diversity was something that could not be ignored and was always something to celebrate. When I came out my junior year of high school and started the school’s first Gay Straight Alliance, I expected resistance and backlash even. What I received instead was an incredible level of support that surprised and astounded me. Friends rallied around me, staff showed their support and I was able to proudly and openly set an example for other LGBT students in the school.
I was one of the lucky ones. These people were not: Justin Aeberg. Billy Lucas. Cody Barker. Asher Brown. Seth Walsh. Raymond Chase. Tyler Clementi. Corey Jackson. Joseph Jefferson.
The last two have happened since the Spirit Day event. The LGBT community and its allies have done so much to bring awareness to these deaths, but more needs to be done before we lose anymore lives. This is something that transcends race, religion, gender, socio-economic status or anything else that we use to separate ourselves from each other. All life is precious.
Please take a moment to look over the websites and watch some of the videos. They are profound and moving and the message needs to get out.