Hope for Gay Youth Courtesy of Dan Savage and YouTube

September 22, 2010

“The hardest thing to do in this world, is to live in it.” - Buffy Summers, Vampire Slayer

Yes, the quote from above comes from a fictionalized television superheroine, but that doesn’t make it any less potent in our very real, very vampire-less existence. I remember clinging to these word when I was facing my own demons on a battlefield we gays are all too familiar with. High school.

Today, I’m thankful for sexpert and columnist Dan Savage for starting a YouTube channel called “It Gets Better” to show all the gay youths out there, that there is life after high school, that it does in fact get better. Dan and his husband started the channel and are asking for “submissions from other gay and lesbian adults—singles and couples, with kids or without, established in careers or just starting out, urban and rural, of all races and religious backgrounds,” so that teen suicides, like Billy Lucas who recently killed himself after being picked on by his classmates for being gay, don’t happen. You can find instructions for submitting your video at www.youtube.com/itgetsbetterproject.

I remember so many days during my adolescents (and this includes the worst years, middle school) feeling so utterly hopeless. Coming to terms with the realization that I was gay was hard enough, but seeing a future? At the time it seemed impossible.

I would stare at my twelve year old reflection from the three paneled mirror in the bathroom my mother had sponge painted. Studying my self: the oversized Eddie Bauer shirt I stole from my brother’s closet, my lengthy brown hair parted down the middle, the very tips of each part curling up and meeting in the center, creating an upside down heart shape on my forehead, my ever-deepening brown eyes. I’d start to cry. I would just sob over and over again, “I’m sorry, please…” as the fan hummed softly behind my plea. Those same tears often watermarked the overly dramatic suicide notes I’d write in bed, each one being hand shredded upon completion almost as feverishly as they were written. Never mentioning that I was gay, I wrote as beautifully as I could suicidal templates like “I’m sorry, I just couldn’t take it anymore,” or “Know that I love you all.”

My mattress became the conduit through which I could release myself from the chains of societal oppression, cradling me, absorbing my tears, my fists, my frustration. It held for me that which I could not achieve on my own, what the world outside my room could not offer.

Solace.

At 13, on the day I would become a Jewish adult I had it all, a guest list full of unknown relatives, 150 of my “closest” friends, and the requisite proud parents. But underneath the celebratory façade, I couldn’t have felt less like a man, or farther from my religion. I spent a lot of time trying to get in touch with God that year. I’d make idle threats to Him and myself hoping to evoke his presence or endure his wrath. I wanted to know why. Why he would curse me with this malady, this “mark of Cain.” I was a good kid: well mannered, respectful, sure I didn’t cherish my Sundays at synagogue, or the High Holy Day services, but I still went. I even fasted that year for good measure. But for all my searching, I never understood why. Why my life was so devastatingly darkened by feelings I wasn’t even responsible for.

I once heard a girl on MTV’s Real World say that she was Jewish but agnostic. After looking it up, I discovered that I too was “skeptical about the existence of God but [did] not profess true atheism.” I realize now that I felt a variation of agnosticism towards my sexuality. I was endlessly questioning whether or not I was truly gay, but I never denied its existence. One particularly angst ridden, bleak day, with no answer from God or anywhere else, I decided that if I couldn’t live as straight man, I just wouldn’t live. With my brother’s hand-me-down bed sheets, emblazoned with basketball players and logos of every team in the NBA, I made a noose. I twisted the blue and gold sheets that seemingly mocked my sporty disinterest into a tightly wound rope. Being the creative kid that I was, I was used to making hammocks out of the very same sheets and the very same cold metal bunk bed bars that would now hopefully wring out the gay in me. I stood with my knees bent under the upper bunk and leaned in closer to the hand crafted noose. I rested my neck in the loop and let my body go, and for no more than 10 to 15 seconds I let myself struggle and choke. But the bunk bed wasn’t high enough to end my pain, and I knew this. I straightened my legs and released myself from the knotted sheet.

I didn’t do it that day, but if it weren’t for the media, for progressive shows like The Real World, for all the gays that came before me paving the way and being particularly loud and exceptionally proud who knows how long I would have last.

If you've been in a similar position, then go on over and post a vid and share your daddy wisdom, and more importantly hope, with today’s youth. Hope is an amazingly powerful force, and to quote Dan, quoting Harvey Milk, “You gotta give ‘em hope.”



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Tags: Dan Savage, Hope
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Post written by RobHeartsDH (View Author Profile)
About this author: Rob lives in Manhattan with his black pug Riley. When he’s not thinking about daddies, he enjoys writing, eating burritos, watching copious amounts of television, and thinking about his next meal.
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Comments

Thanks you for posting this articulate, heartfelt, insightful piece.

I wish someone did something for lonely and isolated middle-aged gay men.

Thank you for posting this.

Hi to you both Dan & Terry,

I came across your you tube posting quite by accident while browsing through DaddyHunt site.
And listen to what you both had to say.
May I say I greatly Appreciate both of your life stories & what you've been through during both of your younger years through High School.
Even though I 40ish something,-I still feel I've come away all the more appreciative of life, & life dose get better as one gets bit more older.
Thanks again Dan & Terry, I hope this message gets to you both somehow.
Email: vivadjoser@yahoo.com.au
I love to hear back from the both of you.
Regards
From
Darren
Sydney, Australia

I know this isn't what the article is about and I'm totally going to show my nerdy side but Buffy didn't say the quote her sister dawn said it. Just pointing this out before some crazy fan makes an uproar about it... Lol

Not to start a nerd war - but I know with 100% certainty Buffy said it TO her sister Dawn in the 100th episode. When I say I've got a Buffy obsession, it's an understatement.

SPOILERS:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gift_(Buffy_the_Vampire_Slayer)

Praise the flying spaghetti monster for Dan Savage!

Keep hope alive for sure. The awakening cults that didn't take us seriously for so long need to go back to sleep and leave the ole law books in the caves they were found in. "ZERO TOLERANCE" of gays and minorities are based on such books.

I just uploaded mine yesterday:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7i1GZeQp5E

Just thought this was an amazing idea.

With all the young gay men ages as young as 13 taking their own lives some of the other thing that are being talked about seem frivolous. The news last night takle about 4 different young men who took their own live. One shot himself, 13, one drowned after a jump from a bridge and two hung themselves. When will the haterid and bullying stop. When will those who are near to these young men and women going to to step up to the plate and and do something to eek out and protect these people. Where are those mandated to protect children in schools and elsewhere.The death and killing of these young vulnerable kids has to be address and them protected.

I am not a fan of Dan Savage, especially his infantile "Savage Love" advice column that is syndicated through a number of gay/alternative magazines, and yet I applaud him for taking the initiative to post something via YouTube that might reach teens in a similar situation and give them hope, but we must also provide GBLT the resources they need to not only combat homophobia and bullying, but to learn how not to be a victim, and to fight back against such physical and verbal abuse. Lets get folks like Elton, Ellen, Latifah, Rosie, Lance, Neil Patrick, Jesse Tyler and others to come forward and engage in this dialogue, and give GBLT teens some real role models to follow

It's terrible tht anyone decides to take their life. It's gr8 tht younger gay men r brave enough to stand up say this is who I am at younger ages. But it is a dangerous and hateful world that we live in and the young gays r not equipped for the danger and hate.

I can see the good in Dan Savage but some of his advice sorry to say is downright hurtful to readers he's responding to in his columns.

I always found that a bit hypocritical considering his difficulties with coming out.