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It Gets Better March 25, 2011

Posted by Dev in Musings, Reviews.
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Dan (left) and Terry (right) at the book launch in New York City

Back in September, I posted a link to a video that Dan Savage had made with his husband, Terry Miller, in which they reached out to LGBT youth with the message, “It gets better.” From that one video a movement has been born. More than 10,000 videos have been created and are now hosted on the dedicated It Gets Better website. Thousands of dollars have been raised for important causes, including GSLEN and The Trevor Project. The latest initiative in the campaign occurred on Tuesday, when the book, It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying and Creating a Life Worth Living was released.

I’ve pre-ordered a few books on my Kindle before, but this was the first one I was very excited about receiving. I stayed up until midnight, turned the Whispernet on, and watched it magically download onto my device. So fucking cool!

Here’s the description of the book from Amazon:

Every story can change a life.

Growing up isn’t easy. Many young people face daily tormenting and bullying, making them feel like they have nowhere to turn. This is especially true for LGBT kids and teens who often hide their sexuality for fear of bullying. Without other openly gay adults and mentors in their lives, they can’t imagine what their future may hold. In many instances, gay and lesbian adolescents are taunted – even tortured – simply for being themselves.

After a number of tragic suicides by LGBT students who were bullied in school, syndicated columnist and author Dan Savage uploaded a video to YouTube with his partner Terry Miller to inspire hope for LGBT youth facing harassment. Speaking openly about the bullying they suffered as teenagers, and how they both went on to lead rewarding adult lives, their video launched the It Gets Better Project YouTube channel and initiated a worldwide phenomenon. With over 6,000 videos posted and over 20 million views in the first three months alone, the world has embraced the opportunity to provide personal, honest and heartfelt support for LGBT youth everywhere.

It Gets Better is a collection of expanded essays and new material from celebrities, everyday people and teens who have posted videos of encouragement, as well as new contributors who have yet to post videos to the site. While many of these teens couldn’t see a positive future for themselves, we can. We can show LGBT youth the levels of happiness, potential and positivity their lives will reach if they can just get through their teen years. By sharing these stories, It Gets Better reminds teenagers in the LGBT community that they are not alone – and it WILL get better.

In the days since the book downloaded, I’ve been reading the essays off and on, whenever I have a spare moment. I’ve watched a lot of the videos over the past six months so I am familiar with the type of stories that are told—still they pack an emotional wallop and I find I can only read a few at a time before I need to take a break. But like a hummingbird to nectar, I keep going back for more.

I’m not gay (anyone who regularly reads this blog knows that!) but I was bullied in school—sixth grade was the year from hell. So I know the pain that these authors have experienced and appreciate their honesty and candor in reaching out to young people. As the parent of a bisexual teen, I did everything I could to advocate for her, both in school and out. Fortunately, she went to a high school that was inclusive and accepting. My heart breaks (daily) thinking of children who are scared, fearful, abused, teased—many right in the environment of their very own homes—and who have done nothing wrong except be themselves. I hope they are able to find this book or the videos or both and know that the message imparted is true: it gets better.

This book and the entire It Gets Better project are important. I fully support the work that Dan and Terry are doing and the goals they are trying to achieve. I highly recommend the book; it will remain in a place of pride on the home page of my Kindle (since I don’t put books on the bookshelf anymore!). Please consider a purchase—all proceeds go to LGBT youth projects—and if you can afford it, consider purchasing a second copy to give to a friend, young person, or library. I gifted a copy to my daughter’s high school library. Won’t you join me and do the same?

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