Tell Them – “It Gets Better”.

September 29, 2010 at 10:12 pm Leave a comment

If you’re looking for a tremendous example of  using social media for good, here it is.

I doesn’t involve donating money.  But it’s beautiful, and powerful.  And learning about it made me cry.

Dan Savage is asking adults to tell youth “it gets better”.

(From the Georgia Straight: )

“In response to the suicide of Billy Lucas, a 15-year-old gay teenager from Indiana who hung himself on September 9 after suffering from bullying, Savage started a YouTube channel as a place where people can post videos with messages of hope for LGBT youth.

Hundreds of responses have already been uploaded by individuals who faced similar struggles in their adolescence.”

Michael Buckley of “What the Buck?”

I don’t know what it’s like to grow up gay – but I understand that for many it’s not a pleasant experience (to say the least).  What I do know something, or rather plenty, about is how crappy it is to feel disliked, alienated, bullied and out-of-sync with those around you.  The thing I hated most about my childhood was going to school –  from when I was about 7-14, because,  for a number of reasons, I was the school freak.  I spent recess and lunches alone and would often eat hiding in a bathroom stall  to avoid the insults and the taunting.  Then there was the general awkwardness of always being watched and criticized, and of being alone in an environment where no one else was. Simply put, it sucked.  I was in a very dark place over those years – but I was fortunate enough to somehow think that maybe it could get better.  Maybe, if I was finally allowed to change schools,  someone would think I was likable and worthy.  Maybe.

It’s the idea that “maybe” this would change, the true hope and belief that it wasn’t always going to be like this – that it couldn’t – that was the reason I didn’t really consider suicide.  But I also had the advantage of living in a big city (Montreal) where I saw plenty of different people.  And not all of them were walking down the city streets alone.  Even most of the weirdos had found a compatible weirdo.  It seemed if I could just get out of the insular fishbowl that was my school, I could make it.

Or at least, that’s how I recall why I didn’t throw in the towel.  Really, I don’t know what saved me.  But I am so grateful that I didn’t give up, because, while it took time, I’ve never been as happy with my life and as comfortable with myself as I am now.

Which is why I am so touched by this project and what it could mean to the teens who don’t yet know that it won’t always suck.

There’s been some improvement over the years in terms of society’s acceptance and acknowledgement of LGBT, but it’s still far from where it needs to be.   While our society works through these issues, it’s crucial to have teens understand that elementary and high school isn’t “the end”.  And that how you are defined – and define yourself – especially once out of these environments, is largely up to you.  Showing people who have made it through, who now have self-acceptance and a support network – I can’t say enough about how inspiring a message that sends to gay youth, as well as others dealing with difficulties and being “different”.

Please participate in this project if you feel you have something to contribute.  Let LGBT teens know that it does get better. So much better.

http://www.youtube.com/itgetsbetterproject

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