After enough troubling stories of teen suicide due to bullying because of real or perceived sexual orientation, Dan Savage (best known for his “Savage Love” column which is a cross between “Talk Sex with Sue Johanson” and “Dear Abby”), started “It Gets Better”.
“It Gets Better” is a YouTube channel filled with videos of individuals who experienced bullying and torment for their real or perceived LGBT status throughout their lives (YouTube channel). What separates Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” and other movements, “It Gets Better” focuses on, well, things getting better in spite of what psychological or physical abuse one may be experiencing currently.
What is “It Gets Better”?
Dan Savage, and his boyfriend’s, brainchild. It is a YouTube channel where viewers can watch video submissions from anyone in the world. Posters are asked to submit their stories about how ‘it got better’ for them, how they not only survived but overcame the torment of peers and colleagues to become successful and happy individuals.
Why start “It Gets Better”?
According to statistics (source), more than 30,000 suicides take place annually. There is evidence suggesting that suicide ‘attempts’ that end in ‘failure’ number between 8 and 25 attempts for each suicide resulting in death.
Anything that succeeds in decreasing the numbers of suicides is to be considered a positive thing.
Also, “It Gets Better” gives a voice to the LGBT community where, as Dan Savages says, “(G)ay adults are not allowed to talk to these kids” at school or church functions like other group representatives are. “It Gets Better” provides a voice. A voice of encouragement and recognition of the trials and tribulations but also the successful possibilities that await LGTB teens who don’t commit suicide and instead wait out the torture.
What does “It Gets Better” mean for the LGBT community?
Within its two weeks of existence, “It Gets Better” has garnered nearly 10,000 subscribers and dozens of videos of positive stories and positive role models that the younger (and older) LGBT community can utilize and fall back on.
Having been through the torture of bullying in middle and high school because of my assumed sexual orientation, I can fully stand behind something like “It Gets Better” as a tool that would have saved me countless nights of cutting and fantasizing about suicide. Not to mention the lasting psychological problems and depression that resulted from my high school bullying.
At the very least, if the efforts of posters encourages one single individual to put down the gun, untie the knot in the noose, or put down the razor blade, then Dan Savage has done more than his part in the fight against teen suicide in both the LGBT community and the larger community.
What does “It Gets Better” mean for everyone else?
Seeing how National Public Radio has already picked up on Dan Savage’s YouTube channel (NPR.org), it is clear that this movement may be around for a while. And I hope it lasts.
Bringing these stories to the forefront of the wider community’s line of vision may lead to further acceptance of members of the LGBT community as normal human beings.
YouTube.com; Dan Savage;It Gets Better YouTube channel
Teen First Aid webpage of suicide statistics
NPR.org; Trey Graham;Three Words For Gay Teens: It Gets Better