Take A Page Turner For The Better

March 25, 2011
its gets better

By now, most of us are familiar with Dan Savage's hugely successful 'It Gets Better' video campaign, a result of the increased awareness of gay teen suicides taking place across the nation. What started out as a safe platform for gay adults to speak to struggling gay youth, exploded into a celebrity and politician filled YouTube channel encouraging today's youth that while high school can be hell, it does eventually get better.

IT GETS BETTER: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living, was released this week, a collection of essays from the likes of David Sedaris, Hillary Clinton, Tim Gunn, Chaz Bono, Suze Orman and many others which proved to be both inspirational and entertaining. I can almost guarantee that if this project/book existed when I was younger, I'd be reading or watching every night. I remember my own struggle, and how much of an impact seeing real, genuine gays that existed outside of a fairly dark adolescence helped me forge ahead. It doesn't take a lot to ignite that spark of hope inside someone, and it's amazing how incredibly far that hope can take you.

They've also started a donation program that is setting out to get the book into every high school library in America. All you need to do is donate ($25) and a book will be sent to the school library of your choosing.

If you could go back in time and talk to your gay teen self, what would you tell him?

Tags: Gay Youth, its gets better, donate
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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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Not that I am one to complain..LOL The link posted for make a donation ....I clicked and it came upo as a blank page. Maybe it is me or my computer, technology and I are not good friends.

Sounds like a good book.

I would say, "Paul, those boys who are abusing you and taunting you are going to evaporate from your life, never to return. Once you're out of school, you are going to embark on a great life full of love, friends and adventure. Most of them will still be living in the same town and doing the same things by the time you're 50. Their opinion doesn't matter in the least. You don't like them, why should you even care about their opinion?"

I would say exactly to myself what I said back then. It gets better while i stared at a gun in my parent's basement with intolerance swirling around me, from family, school and anyone else. Lucky me I also lived in an area where gay was worse than a child molester, was forced to go to church and on and on it goes. I had a freind call a freind who survived a suicide attempt to talk to me and I got advice to "get out of this family and don't come back" according to a considerably older sister.

Glad I left turned my back and walked away. I was right.

"Twenty years from now, they'll all be dull and you'll be glamorous."

From the perspective of time, believing it gets better is a no brainer.

What we mature survivors do well to remember is that when we were in the midddle of the horrors at age 16, the only thing that was real was the pain, the collective abuse and bullying and the shunning of the day. Age 50 is is seen as another universe and has no or very little relevance when you are a teen. Anecdotes of practical steps that we took when we were there might be very helpful to those in their own, private, unshareable hell. Retrospective practical insights and steps to take might also help.

Every situation is unique and to the person going through the nightmare, is comparable to no other; not truly understood by anyone. Empathy and understanding in our adult survivor words are critical to come across with anything that means anything to the abused and possibly, to the abuser.

It does get better, one can only hope that surviving the first 18 years of your life that you could come out unscathed. Few do. Being gay as a teen can be trying. As an adult we should all help a young gay person coming of age if the oppurtunity presents itself.

I must be one of the lucky ones. As when I was 16 I was not being bullied. I was not part of the "cool" kids group either. I did however have great friends I loved. That's what really got me through. 

However it wasn't until my first year of University when I truly felt the bite of the stigma of being gay. I must say the uni was not one of tolerance of gays/lesbians or anyone different. Sure they had a GLBT group on campus.  Which I soon found out was for the sole purpose of hooking up & screwing on campus. 

All I can say is, in Australia we have Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 (freecall within Australia) http://www.kidshelp.com.au/

Kids Helpline is Australia's only free, private and confidential, telephone and online counselling service specifically for young people aged between 5 and 25.
This group has helped literally thousands of young people & prevented many suicides. 

Remember one thing, this is your life. You only get ONE so please live it & ask for help. Easier said then done I know. But before reaching for the knife or gun. 

Reach Out to someone!

I am one of the first Baby Boomers. I had finished college by the time the Stonewall raid occurred in the summer of 1969, but I got to reap the value of the Gay Pride movement. I do think that by living happy lives as OUT and PROUD gays and lesbians, we do future generations a big service. I wonder how different my own teenage years might have been had I known even a SINGLE well-adjusted gay adult. I was fortunate to have some relatives who never married, and at least that gave me the notion that you didn't have to be married with family to live a happy and productive life. It's a damn shame, though, when we don't get to the GLBT youth to give them the message. It DOES get better! Hang on. And learn the lesson that there is a family of birth and a family of choice. Life is a lot better when you find your loving, supportive family of choice. And there are loving gay men out there (mingled with the ones who are all about LUST!--which isn't a bad thing, either).

i would tell them it does get better. I was lucky in high school that there was a mix of support. I was lucky enough (i'm being sarcastic now) that the bullying came from home after my brother arrogantly knocked out my front tooth. I had jerks at school who could cut me to the core but I also had people I felt comfort in both male and female I felt comfortable around. I was never open but I am sure my taste in clothing and the fact i got constantly told back then and even now condescendingly that I walk with a stick shoved up my ass was an indication of my sexuality. Life didn't seem like hell but it was at times I will admit.

I went to school during the Aids crisis where even touching myself i felt guilty because of all the press coverage. I was also so protective that if i was in crisis and family knew something was going on, I was too protective and not ready to say a word about what was going on. I maintain the area I came from has the attitude that gay is worse than child molestation which is WRONG.

I found my high school crush after 24 years and to this day he still has no clue how much of an impact he had on me. I like to think that it wasn't about his incredibly good looks that I couldn't understand why everyone didn't see it. I like to think it was about our conversations, about respect that we had for each other, the academic discussions about life we seemed to have. To this day I still feel though he doesn't live far away, in ways I hope I will never see him again I will miss him for the rest of my life. What I am happy about though is he's happy. Those years of being dragged off to a counsellor to get at what was going on that I was too protective to answer and not ready for and all of the stress and internal torment I felt are gone.

I would say to my gay self as I revisit, there is nothing wrong with you. Don't you listen to the white noise of intolerance because you are right to make plans to leave this place, you are right to explore other options that don't involve being glued to your family and finding your own sense of independence. It is not going to be easy but there will be some fun along the way. Your keen sense of instinct will guide you through ok because you can sensibly make wise decisions and decide what risks you want to take. Your grief over your high school crush will pass. You will achieve things You will learn well on into the future and you will persevere and be ok.

Try to remember that any bullying coming from social networking sites means that those people who have time to send tons of messages means that they are very lonely in the first place. Also how can anyone be mocked or made fun of online when no one even knows anyone this way. Its like some folks are projecting a generic attitude not based in the reality of having known anyone in real life as they resort to electronic winks and texting 24 7. EEKS!