Dan Savage: "It Gets Better"

Savage Love columnist Dan Savage, who spoke to sold out crowds at UAA two years in a row, has a new video project to give hope to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer youth who are harassed for being different and remind them that there is life after high school - and it can be great!

It started when Savage wrote a column about a gay teenager in Indiana who killed himself:
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 here's what you can do: Make a video. Tell them it gets better.

I've launched a channel on YouTube—www ­.youtube.com/itgetsbetterproject—to host these videos. My normally camera-shy husband and I already posted one. We both went to Christian schools and we were both bullied—he had it a lot worse than I did—and we are living proof that it gets better. We don't dwell too much on the past. Instead, we talk mostly about all the meaningful things in our lives now—our families, our friends (gay and straight), the places we've gone and things we've experienced—that we would've missed out on if we'd killed ourselves then.


We can't help Billy, but there are lots of other Billys out there—other despairing LGBT kids who are being bullied and harassed, kids who don't think they have a future—and we can help them.

They need to know that it gets better. Submit a video. Give them hope.
Dan Savage and his husband Terry talk about being bullied in high school for being gay and how their lives got so much better as adults:

Do you have a good story to tell about how life got better for you as an adult? They want to hear your story of How It Got Better!
It would be great to get some more videos that include more than one person. Gay couples, groups of friends, straight people and their gay friends. And we have lots of videos from folks who are focusing on what they suffered—which absolutely should be touched on. But it would be great to see some more videos that give young gay kids a picture of the lives they could make for themselves if they just hang in there... So if you decide to make a video, don't just share your pain. Share your joy too.
There are dozens of videos listed as favorites on the It Gets Better YouTube site, and now cities are joining the project.

San Francisco was the first city to respond with an "It Gets Better" video. Check it out:

If you're in Alaska and you make an "It Gets Better" video, please send the link to Bent Alaska so I can post it here as well.

There's a big beautiful world out there waiting for you. It gets better. Trust me.

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