And now, for a very special episode of ilovethingsthataregreat.com
There has been a saddening trend of gay suicide recently. Gay youth has always been a very high risk group for self-harm and suicide. It’s easy to see why. Though the LGBTQ community is adept at finding the rainbow in every storm and modern life is indeed trending toward tolerance for us queers, you’ll still often see sudden but widespread periods of violence against gays. Some pockets of America are slower to change than others and the two steps forward one step back nature of the fight for civil rights often calls untoward attention to gay people who might otherwise just be minding their own business thinking optimistically that we’re all just marching merrily towards equality. Noticing this recent spate, the articulate, pithy, and wise Dan Savage has come up with a beautiful idea and today’s great thing.
150. The “It Gets Better Project”.
If you haven’t been reading Dan Savage’s “Savage Love” sex-advice column, you are missing out on a highly amusing, informative, and culturally relevant (google ‘Santorum’ and you’ll see what I mean), way to spend fifteen minutes of time at your work desk every week. Savage is also the author of several (mostly autobiographical) books. You can always find the “Savage Love” column at The Onion’s AV Club. Here’s a recent edition where Savage takes some time to talk about the “It Gets Better Project”.
And, if that’s not enough, here’s a link to an interview with Savage about it on ABC News: ABC
Though Dan Savage started this campaign directly in response to the recent gay suicides that have been covered in the media, this is an important message for anyone who is bullied anywhere ever. You don’t have to be gay to appreciate the near-univeral message of ‘yes, highschool is tough, other kids can be huge jerks, but hang in there because life after school gets better.’ Kids get picked on for any number of reasons: too fat, too skinny, no boobs, has boobs, glasses, haircut, ethnicity, first name, last name, likes, dislikes, family situation, eats boogers, doesn’t eat boogers, whatever.
But, perhaps the one thing that sets gays apart is that, unlike other targets of bullying, it’s institutionally approved to harass homosexuals. Like race, it’s an attribute that can’t be changed. Yes, some people are bi and some people have more ‘fluid’ sexuality, but what I mean is that ‘ex gay camps’ are complete bullcrap. You can try to smother away your queer leanings, but like an X-Man trying to ignore their mutant ability, you’ll just wind up burning down a shopping mall with your pyrokinesis. Can you imagine if institutions like religion, the military, and public schools all denied rights to another minority group? People would be outraged. Well, good people would be outraged. There will always be a-holes who think that bullying is actually OK or even righteous when it’s directed at LGBTQ folk. Polite society makes it OK to dislike gays if your religion says that being gay is a sin.
The thing is, these things don’t happen in a vacuum. The violence is always provoked…Just not by the gays who are receiving the beatings or bullying. Sarah Silverman’s short video for the project puts this point across very well.
The “It Gets Better” YouTube channel is brimming with user videos just waiting to give kids who are at the end of their tethers pause…and show them the light at the end of the tunnel. Here’s the original, which obviously sets the bench-mark:
Here’s one with two cute lezz (‘lezz’, I’ve decided, is now going to be the pluralized short form ‘of lesbians’) from everyoneisgay.com. Their video entry features a staple of YouTube videos…lip-synching to a pop track whilst posing to the camera.
If I were going to make one of these (I haven’t yet), I think I’d talk about what it’s REALLY like to come out. There are stages that kids need to be aware of. Knowledge of these stages is important if you want to be an educated and self-aware, meta-gay. Here are the stages:
1. First of all, it takes a lot of your time, obsession, and energy to come out–especially if you were brought up with religion or in a less-progressive community. I was raised Catholic. So, you can imagine. I had a few, quite literally sleepless nights, and then, when I finally built up the nerve to come out, it was to a priest in a confessional. For real. Then I chose my best gay friend to tell, then my sister, then my Mom, then my Dad, then my best friend from highschool, then pretty much everyone else all at once. So, non-stop stress and soul-sweating crises were followed by rushes of great relief.
2. Once that is done, it’ll be all you want to talk about. Sorry straight friends. We won’t have a conversation about anything BUT either the homosexual experience or how the world is unfair to us for at least the next two years. What’s that? You’re just back from Machu Picchu? That’s nice. Another girl looked at me in a bar the other day, what do you think that means? Did you see that Portia De Rossi is gay? Wow! I’m marching in the dyke march on Saturday. Want to come? Hey, where are you going? This stage will also be the point in your life where all the minutiae in life becomes super important drama. You will think your life is a soap opera over the next couple of years. You’ll also probably act like a bit of an idiot. A lot. Especially when you’re drinking. Be careful.
3. Then, you’ll relax about it a bit and start calling the younger generation of gays that are at the bars, with all their frenetic just out of the closet energy, ‘baby dykes’. They soon become slightly annoying. Why can’t they all be cool and collected and confident like the rest of us?
4. Finally, you’ll stop feeling ‘different’ from other people. Yes, you’re unique…but not just because of your sexuality. That’s just a part of you, not the whole of you. Hopefully, you’ll still remain active in the fight for civil rights, but you’ll face the challenge as a human being instead of as an ‘other’.
At least that’s what it’s all felt like for me. So, buck up kids! Your float in the pride parade awaits you…