Dan Savage's "It Gets Better"

A great article in the NYTimes this past weekend about cyberbullying — and in particular cyberbullying over sexual orientation — included this line which really made us stop and think: “the punishment must fit the crime, not the sense of outrage over it.” It’s wise and it’s true, but we’d forgotten that — and it doesn’t answer the question, what do you do with all the outrage you feel? The outraged part of us feels that Tyler Clementi’s college roommate — who secretly filmed Clementi hooking up with another guy then posted it online, leading to Clementi’s suicide — deserves to go to jail for a long, long time. Same goes for the assholes who bullied 13-year-old Seth Walsh about his sexual orientation — Walsh hanged himself from a tree in his backyard last month and died after more than a week on life support. And countless other gay teen suicides across the country — often as a direct result of peer bullying.

But now we’ve figured out what we can do — throw all our energies into supporting Dan Savage’s awesome new YouTube channel, “It Gets Better.” Savage and his husband filmed the first video themselves, and we dare you to watch it without crying, especially in light of the recent bullying and suicides. Their message to gay teens? Life after high school does get better, but only if you stick around and live your life. And if you don’t stick around, the bigots win. They talk about how they each found a community of supportive friends, how they came out to their families, how they found each other, how they adopted their son together, and how awesome life as a gay man can be, once you’ve left the teenage bigots behind. And now they are soliciting video submissions from anyone else who can help spread the same message (they already have more than a hundred submissions). As Savage writes in his column, “LGBT kids who don’t know any LGBT adults need to see—with their own eyes—that gay adults lead happy and rewarding lives. So if you decide to make a video—and I hope that you do—don’t just share your pain. Share your joy. Give ’em hope. Save a life.”

Savage and his husband both say that their lives improved the second they graduated from high school, though sadly that wasn’t true for Tyler Clementi. But the ultimate message is, once you can choose where you live and who you live with and who you socialize with — which may not happen until after college for some people — you are going to have an awesome life. Please tell everyone you know about this channel; we can’t imagine a better, more uplifting response to all the asshole bigots like Clementi’s roommate. Also, will someone please make Dan Savage — who is, no shit, a good Catholic boy — a goddamn saint already?

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  1. because of this at my school we have started a memorial day too ll who have been killed or taken their lives due to their sexuality. This Wednesday wear purple to remember all who have lost their lives due to heterosexualism

  2. Nicely done, Dannie, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves! One more point we will add: The blogger in question seems to have completely missed the main point of the video project, which is to encourage everyone who wants to submit, to submit. If that’s not the very essence of “listening,” then we don’t know what is! And just starting a national conversation like this is the best way to let people know that they can be heard.

  3. 1. The main goal of this is to prevent teen suicide. Part of preventing suicide is convincing teens that there is, in fact, a reason to keep living. Committing suicide is -not- a good response to bullying, and saying living life to your fullest potential is better than killing yourself does not make me ageist nor does it mean that I am putting guilt on people who do commit suicide.
    2. It helps to see adult role models who aren’t assholes. In a multiplicity of ways. Also, it’s kinda hard to hold listening, psych sessions on a video blog.
    3. Neither of these men denounced their religions. At all. I failed to see how it condemned religion in any way, other than stating the facts.
    4. Why shouldn’t kids who are being bullied for their sexuality be able to dream about going to Paris and having a kid? It seems classist to me to think that these ideals should only be allotted to already wealthy children.
    5. Yeah, the bar scene was cheesy, but it was candid. It just goes to show that, as dorky as one may be, love–not just sexual flings or violence–can be found in fun ways. And, hello, would you condemn a straight couple for getting together in a bar?
    6. There is nothing demeaning to suffering youth in providing a beacon. Most of the time, it does get better after high-school–as far as bullying goes. Not always, clearly. But it does not do any harm to point out that high school is hard enough for straight people, not to mention gay, and that as we grow up we grow into bigger agents of our own happiness. How can you ever even find out if it will get better for you if you kill yourself first?
    7. Kids won’t talk about their problems if they think no one is listening. Period. By showing that they know the suffering, and that they have overcome it, and that they clearly care, these two men are showing that there are people out there–including themselves–who will listen. This is a way to start the conversation.
    8. What would -you- do? I ask this honestly. If this response is not good enough for you, what is? I bet it’s been done before.
    9. There is nothing wrong with encouraging kids to come out to their families. (Though they didn’t even do that. They just said what happened when they chose to come out, and gave kids hope.) Yes, it can be dangerous; I’ve seen this firsthand. I’ve also seen, despite the pain of being kicked out and denied kinship, the sort of wholeness and hope it gives to someone who has fully and openly acknowledged a part of their identity. Also,how can any healing being if no one says anything? Staying quiet is no guarantee to safety, either.
    10. Is everything they say positively going to happen after graduation? No. But, does it help to have a light, even if it is a wavering one, at the end of a long and painful tunnel? YES. I fail to see what is wrong with giving hope based in fact via personal experience to kids who are considering killing themselves for lack of it.

  4. as much as I agree on the importance of non-bullying and a truly sex-positive life-perspective, I have been feeling “queer” about this campaign.
    if you don’t mind please reconsider these arguments, better summarized than I could ever do as a non-english-speaker (and non-American).


    thank you from Germany !

    non-bloggess and avid reader of your blog.

  5. Please please support this project! Its awesome and sorely needed in our world.

    (I’m not gay and even I want to post a video!)

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