The Make It Better Project
From Dan Savage
"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.... 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, GBVWS: 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.
"You gotta give 'em hope," Harvey Milk said.
Today we have the power to give these kids hope. We have the tools to reach out to them and tell our stories and let them know that it does get better. Online support groups are great, GLSEN does amazing work, the Trevor Project is invaluable. But many LGBT youth can't picture what their lives might be like as openly gay adults. They can't imagine a future for themselves. So let's show them what our lives are like, let's show them what the future may hold in store for them.
The video my husband and I made is up now—all by itself. I'd like to add submissions from other gay and lesbian adults—singles and couples, with kids or without, established in careers or just starting out, urban and rural, of all races and religious backgrounds. (Go to www.youtube.com/itgetsbetterproject to find instructions for submitting your video.) If you're gay or lesbian or bi or trans and you've ever read about a kid like Billy Lucas and thought, "Fuck, I wish I could've told him that it gets better," this is your chance. 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.
************ HOW TO SUBMIT***********
We want to hear YOUR STORY of How It Got Better! Create your video, post it to YouTube, and send the URL to mail (at) savagelove.net. We'll review it and post to our FAVORITES section.
(Note: You'll need your own YouTube account. Follow all the standard YouTube guidelines for setting up the account, and for loading the video. Once your video is loaded and processed, email us the YouTube URL.)
PLEASE: No two- or three- or four-part videos. And try to keep it under ten minutes, if at all possible!
AND: We're putting together a Playlist of IGBP subscribers favorite videos. Send an email with the URL for your favorite video to IGBP@savagelove.net. Please note: we will not be reading the bodies of these emails, just the subject lines.
ALSO: We are completely overwhelmed by the number of videos pouring in. If you don't see your video on IGBP's list of favorites right away, please be patient. Also, your video can be found, even if it isn't in the favorite page, if you title it "IT GETS BETTER."