The 'It Gets Better Project' Turns the Spotlight on Anti-Gay Bullying
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
The It Gets Better Project has gotten everyone from President Obama to Perez Hilton to the Broadway cast of "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" to spread messages of hope to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (L.G.B.T.) teens who have been ridiculed for being gay.
The project began with a YouTube video that sex advice columnist Dan Savage and his partner, Terry Miller, posted in response to the suicides of Justin Aaberg, Tyler Clementi, and to deaths of other gay teens who have been bullied for their sexual orientation. Six months, 10 thousand videos and 35 million YouTube views later, the project has become "The It Gets Better Book," which was released on Tuesday.
The book has big-name contributors like David Sedaris. It also includes video testimonials made by less-famous people who moved Miller and Savage. Over and over again, the project's message is clear: a long, happy life as an out gay, lesbian or trans adult is possible. But it requires rising above the bullies.
The director of the Ali Forney shelter for homeless L.G.B.T. youth, Carl Siciliano, has seen some of the bullying, rejection and suffering firsthand. He supports the work that the It Gets Better Project is doing, but feels that bullying is not the only danger for gay, lesbian and trans youth who make up between 20 and 40 percent of homeless youth in the United States, according to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
"We’re missing the bigger picture," he said, adding that L.B.G.T. homeless shelters need visibility, too. "Families and homes are the primary spaces that are supposed to nurture and protect kids, and so many gay kids are not able to receive that from their homes."
Dirk McCall, the director of the Bronx Community Pride Center, hopes that the increased visibility around L.G.B.T. issues leads the public to back their ideological support with a financial investment.
"Anything that gets people talking about the issue is a great thing," said McCall, whose organization sends teams into high schools citywide to train students and teachers to be sensitive to L.G.B.T. youth. "Now, I wish they would take the next step--start funding the organizations that go into schools and do the outreach. Otherwise, we are chronically underfunded."
The book tour for the It Gets Better Project launched at 7:00 P.M. Tuesday at the Barnes and Noble store at 97 Warren St.