After Billy Lucas, a gay teen in Indiana, killed himself after being bullied because of his sexuality, columnist Dan Savage launched his It Gets Better project, which he explained in a recent Savage Love column:
I wish I could have told [Billy Lucas] 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.
This is so necessary, and it’s a powerful use of YouTube. And it’s awful, too, that we live in a culture that must explicitly tell some of its members not to kill themselves.
It feels like we’re getting more and more fucked up lately. But at least there are some people — like Savage, with his husband Terry in this video — who are trying to be lights in the darkness.