On the topic of gay civil rights, bullying and religious kooks, Dan Savage has an feature in this week’s The Stranger–the spectacular alt-weekly from Seattle, Washington–about the It Gets Better Project, a video outreach project Savage launched after a spate of suicides by gay and lesbian teens in the U.S., where gay marriage remains mostly illegal and where religious kooks are given ample platform to freely espouse vicious and insane beliefs in the American mainstream media.
It’s great. You should read it. Here’s an excerpt:
The culture used to offer this deal to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people: You’re ours to torture until you’re 18. You will be bullied and tormented at school, at home, at church—until you’re 18. Then you can do what you want. You can come out, you can move away, and maybe, if the damage we’ve done isn’t too severe, you can recover and build a life for yourself. There’s just one thing you can’t do after you turn 18: You can’t talk to the kids we’re still torturing, the LGBT teenagers being assaulted emotionally, physically, and spiritually in the same cities, schools, and churches you escaped from. And if you do attempt to talk to the kids we’re still torturing, we’ll impugn your motives, we’ll accuse you of being a pedophile or pederast, we’ll claim you’re trying to recruit children into the “gay lifestyle.”
That was the old order, and it fell apart when the It Gets Better Project went viral. Suddenly, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender adults all over the country—all over the world—were speaking to LGBT youth. We weren’t waiting for anyone’s permission anymore. We found our voices. And LGBT adults who made videos for the project weren’t just talking at LGBT youth. The kids who watched videos sent e-mails, via YouTube, to the adults posting them. Thousands of LGBT adults who thought they were just going to contribute a video found themselves talking with LGBT youth, offering them not just hope but advice, insight, and something too many LGBT youth lack—the ear of a supportive adult who understands what they’re going through.
Soon, straight people—politicians and celebrities—were talking to LGBT youth, too, delivering the same message: It gets better, there’s nothing wrong with you, and we’re working to make it better.
Here’s a link to the It Gets Better Project, which is worthy of your support.