In the wake of four recent teen suicides related to bullying and outing, activist columnist Dan Savage has done something great by starting the It Gets Better movement.
Nine out of ten gay teenagers experience bullying and harassment at school. Nine out of ten. I was teased and taunted, and beat up, as a kid. And much as I love Glee, how they show conflict isn't real, kids --- there wasn't singing or dancing involved. It was lonely and scary. And I got through it to the really good life I have today.
It Gets Better aims to show these teens, many of whom have no gay contacts or role models, that by pushing through the tough years they can come out at the other end happy and healthy and loved and validated, that it gets better.
Gay teens are four times more likely to attempt suicide. While there are more role models now than when I was a kid, there are painfully few, and often these kids are kept away from gay people who could help by their parents and schools. What is wrong with this picture?
Growing up can be scary and lonely. Like many gay kids, and probably many straight kids, I had my challenges when I was a kid: gay, fat, stutter, smart, Jewish do not add up to Mr Popularity. I had a small number of great friends, several of whom I still have contact with (thank you facebook).
Everyone needs hope. It Gets Better is a video movement Savage and his boyfriend started with a video of their own story, of the harassment they enjoyed in school and the full and rewarding lives they live now. There are now well over a hundred videos to show gay teens that people care, and while it features celebs like Anne Hathaway, Jenny McCarthy, Tim Gunn, Kathy Griffin, and more, the idea is for lots of people, tons of people, all of us (uh, I'm camera shy) to upload videos to show a wave of caring and support. For those of us who have come through the tough childhood to look back and tell gay youth what we wish someone had told us, that it gets better.
It also refers people to The Trevor Project, a toll-free 24-hour support line, who you can find @ http://www.thetrevorproject.org/. They do good stuff.
Check out It Gets Better @ www.youtube.com/itgetsbetterproject, and on facebook of course. Everything is on facebook...