Tuesday was an odd day for Mr. Strangeways. It started out emotional with news of a friend who’s in Harbor View with a mysterious illness, (Get Well, Mr. Bonzai!) then some happiness when I saw the daily stats from Monday, (one of our best days ever, thank you SGS Readers!), then I went to the Dan Savage/Terry Miller appearance at Town Hall for the promotion of their book, The It Gets Better Project an extension of their online site dedicated to helping LGBT youth cope with bullying and suicide prevention.
Naturally, I expected a lot of emotion. A room full of LGBT people listening to a discussion about bullying, dead kids, and the hope for a better life is bound to get a bit emotionally charged. And, there were plenty of tears and choked up voices on hand…from Mr Savage, as he explained why he was happy that the current President of the United States contributed a video to the project, but bitterly recalling that it took seven years for Ronald Reagan to publicly use the word “AIDS” while thousands of men died; from Mr. Miller as he recounted his own battered teen years; from young Demetrius Gittens who read his own contribution to the project, an essay recalling his own experiences as a bullied gay teen and his struggle to the point where things “did get better”. I’m a jaded, tough old cookie but I’m also a big softie and I freely admit I had to blink away the tears on more than one occasion last night at Town Hall…I’m tearing up right now writing about the experience.
But, there was also a lot of laughter and a hopeful sense that this project has changed the dialogue about bullying and its horrifying affects on LGBT and questioning youth, not only in this country but around the world. As Mr. Savage put it, the people and mentors that LGBTQ kids need to talk to for advice and guidance, ADULT members of the LGBTQ community, are prevented from directly talking to these kids in their hours of need. A gay man or woman who tried to talk personally with a minor would be probably labeled a pedophile and arrested. But, through the miracle of the Internet and the efforts of “It Gets Better”, The Trevor Project and GLSEN thousands of gay, lesbian, bi and trans adults and their allies, can tell these kids, in the privacy of their own homes, in their own rooms, in their own beds under the covers as they find the advice and comfort they need away from the judgmental eyes of peers, families and society, that it CAN and WILL and SHOULD get better and what they can do to personally survive and triumph over bullying and homophobia.
Support this project. Buy the book, make a video, donate money to Trevor Project, GLSEN, the ACLU who fight in court, for the rights of these kids. It might seem like a small thing to do, but when thousands do it, lives can, and are, being saved.