It Gets Better (for gay teens)

By , October 9, 2010

“It gets better” is the emphatic theme of a new campaign to encourage teens who may be losing hope and considering harming themselves.  Let me join in: it will get better. Really.

The “It Gets Better” campaign on YouTube features many videos by “real people” who’ve experienced discrimination, teasing, bullying, and worse, because they were gay (or were perceived as being gay). The campaign was started by Dan Savage (a political commentator and advice columnist), but many others have joined in.  The importance of the message is certainly reinforced by several recent suicides by young adults, including the tragic suicide of a Rutgers student (whose private same-sex encounter was secretly captured by webcam and streamed live by his roommate).

In the headline, I wrote “for gay teens,” but it’s not just gay teens.  Many of the teens who are taunted with “gay insults” are completely heterosexual, and many are still uncertain about their sexual orientation.

How does it get better? Some folks will tell you it got better when they “left” (moved out of a community where they felt oppressed). Others realize that bullies and other “haters” are suffering their own demons, and it’s not about the “victim” being gay, but about the bully’s own personal issues (which often turn out to be repressed sexual feelings). Some folks say it gets better once you’ve “come out” as gay, which removes uncertainty and often brings acceptance from those who you’d least expect it from (but sometimes brings rejection from others whom you’ve leaned on).

The public nature of these videos means you won’t see feedback from others who “stay in the closet,” but I wish there were a way we could hear from those folks, too, because I know that things get better for them, too.

It’s okay to be gay. It’s also okay if you’re not sure about your sexual orientation (or your gender orientation). It’s okay to be bisexual. It’s okay to stay in the closet; it’s also okay to come out of the closet; and it’s even okay to “come out” to some people but not others. (And hey, it’s also okay to be “straight.”)

Watch some of the YouTube videos, and if you still don’t think “it will get better,” then watch some more.

And talk to someone. And then talk to someone else. If you don’t want to discuss this with your friends or family, there are other options , including telephone lifelines, anonymous internet chat rooms, and much more:

Make the right decision: Live.

2 Responses to “It Gets Better (for gay teens)”

  1. Mark Welch says:

    President Obama posted his own “It Gets Better” video:

    Another video features several FaceBook employees sharing the “It Gets Better” message:

    And here’s a video from Google employees:

  2. Mark Welch says:

    It’s wonderful to see that this message has spread widely, very quickly. Millions of people have viewed at least one of the YouTube videos, and tens of thousands of people have posted their own “It Gets Better” messages on YouTube.

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