If you read this blog regularly, you're probably interested in men engaging in gay and bisexual acts. (Let me just say right now that any videos of said acts that I have linked to or written about depict consenting adults who freely agreed to having their activities filmed and made public, to the best of my knowledge.) I hope that you sometimes think about the lives of these men and that you want them to be healthy and happy, not just bodies who sport in the bedroom for our enjoyment.
As you probably know, there have been several incidents recently in which gay teens (and teens whose peers assumed they were gay) have been harassed to the point of suicide. Sex advice columnist Dan Savage has an idea: let these kids know it gets better.
As he wrote last week:
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, 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.
Dan wrote more this week:
And here's a thought for people who are thinking about making videos for the It Gets Better Project: Many of the early submitted videos focused on something many gay adults have in common with gay kids—our experiences with being bullied. The pain we endured as kids should be touched on. But it would be great to see more videos that give gay young people a picture of the lives they could make for themselves if they just hang in there. LGBT kids who don't know any LGBT adults need to see—with their own eyes—that gay adults lead happy and rewarding lives. So if you decide to make a video—and I hope that you do—don't just share your pain. Share your joy. Give 'em hope. Save a life. www.youtube.com/itgetsbetterproject
If you're a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) teen, watch some of these videos.
If you're an LGBT adult who is now comfortable with your identity -- in short, if it got better for you -- consider making a video yourself.
If you're a straight adult with an LGBT teen who looks up to you and trusts you -- in your family, your school, your religious or scouting organization -- talk to them about any bullying they've experienced and do what you can to stop it, then point them to these videos.
Thanks for reading.