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“It Gets Better”

By Lavender October 21, 2010

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Love one another.” It’s a simple, memorable, and easy-to remember phrase uttered, one is told, some 2010 years ago. People need such phrases, even though—like “Love one another”—they can be difficult to follow.

“It gets better”—another simple, easy-to-remember phrase—has sprung to life the past few weeks through the agency of Dan Savage, author of the sex-advice column “Savage Love,” and his partner, Terry Miller. They were moved by the recent spate of suicides of young gay persons, some not yet in their teens.

The most prominent and highly-publicized was that of Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old Rutgers freshman who was a talented violinist. Some youngsters were bullied. Clementi’s roommate and a cohort secretly filmed Clementi with a male partner, and it was broadcast online.

Savage and Miller produced an 8 1/2-minute video—visit <www.itgetsbetterproject.com> to watch it—aimed specifically at gay teens stressed to the point that they might consider suicide as their only option. The two talk about how they met after surviving harrowing school and family situations. They return repeatedly to the powerful promise, “It gets better.”

This is the most important and most basic message that a troubled youngster needs to hear. Someone who is 13 or even 18 years old doesn’t have the experience to realize that time itself can bring surcease to much of his or her pain.

It is unconscionable that bullying continues to be condoned and ignored in our schools, but if a youngster can escape, life can improve from that point on.

Until that time, gay kids—or any child tormented for his or her color, body shape, religion, extraordinary talent, or gender—need a lifeline.

While clinging to the promise that “It gets better,” they can access videos like that of Savage and Miller, along with hundreds of others springing up on YouTube and other Web sites. They also can get advice about places to seek help and people to talk to—perhaps even a teacher at school, as Savage was fortunate enough to find.

Three words, a sympathetic adult, or the knowledge that he or she is not the only one can mean the difference between death and a fulfilling life for a young person. Best of all, Savage and Miller have shown that individuals can make a difference.

Here in Minneapolis, existing groups, clubs, or friends can think of ways to show a preteen, a high schooler, or an isolated college student that, indeed, “It gets better.”

2 Responses to “It Gets Better”

  1. Lee says:

    “It gets better” Such simple but true words. The tragedy is that so many young GLBT people have paid such a high price for their fear and anguish. These fears continue to haunt even those of us that have matured. As an out and proud member of the GLBT community, I can only hope and pray that there will be an end to the bullying, harassment and misunderstanding that has lead to the tragic outcomes many of our GLBT brothers and sisters have suffered. We owe it to ourselves, and to others, to be that example of how it truly does get better.

  2. Jonathan says:

    I really don’t want to sound too negative, but I do feel we need some more perspective in this movement – I do agree 100% that our number one concern needs to be for all gay people (not just youth) who are isolated, depressed and in a dangerous place right now. But there are a lot of us who came out, and things didn’t get any better – if anything, they got much worse. I think it’s because a lot of what we see during those first few years in the community encompass addictions, indifference and rude attitudes from other gay men. We treat each other horribly in real life, and it’s certainly something we don’t expect when we first come out…the world becomes a very dark place when you finally are ready to come out to this community you think is going to be terrific and waiting for you, only to feel insulted, ridiculed and excluded because you don’t have money, don’t look a certain way, and don’t have whatever we’re supposed to have in order to be deemed ‘worthy’ by other gay men. So when you feel you have no place in the straight community, and now you have no place in the gay one, then what? THAT is the danger I think we are inadvertently putting people in, because while it’s true to an extent that things do get better, a lot of times things get a lot worse (after coming out) beforehand. We lack support within the gay community because most of us don’t care about each other (because of how we were raised to see other gay men). We missed out on developing social skills that other adults learned while we were busy hiding our secret and hoping nobody found out. Now we’ve become adults who don’t know how to be of support to each other because we are dealing with our own stuff. Our solution, based on what I’ve seen from other gay men over the years, is to walk away, never talk to each other again, and not even acknowledge each other in public. That isn’t a sign of anything ‘getting better’.

    ‘It gets better’ when gay men learn how to treat other gay men as people with feelings, dreams and lives. We have to stop this social snobbery that implies that you aren’t worth anything unless you go into debt to look wealthy. Coming out used to be a statement that differences were okay, they were to be celebrated and a way of stating that those differences were important and made us proud. Now it seems that it only brings you into a community with very strict, expensive guidelines that this very magazine buys into (I never see anything advertising low-income housing, homeless resources for GLBT adults, etc – it’s all ads for rich people).

    If you want to know why most young gay men are no longer coming out in public, why the 18-21 nights are dead at the bars, it’s because they’re all hiding on the internet. They see how we treat each other online and want nothing to do with it.

    I don’t know what the solution is. The solution isn’t lying to people. We’ve done enough lying to each other over the years – it needs to stop. It’s misleading and absolutely the reason why so many of us check out of the gay community all together after seeing how misleading we are to each other.

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