Friday, October 1, 2010

Dan Savage: It gets better

Please, the next time you're about to say "that's so gay," stop for a moment and think about Tyler Clementi, Justin Aaberg, Seth Walsh, Billy Lucas and Asher Brown, driven to suicide by homophobic bullying.

Forget what your mother told you, words do hurt. Name-calling dehumanizes the target and desensitizes the rest of us into believing that it's acceptable. It's not. It's not acceptable to use "gay" as an object of derision.

Unfortunately the Internet has opened up new avenues for the bullies, so it's good to see technology used to help the victims. Writer Dan Savage and his husband, Terry Miller, have started a project on YouTube called It Gets Better, in which gay and lesbian adults share their stories.

Dan and Terry talk about what they went through in high school as gay teens and the abuse they endured, especially Terry, was horrific. But the story doesn't end there. Things did get better. The two describe their lives today: how they met, raising their son, being part of loving, supportive families.

Savage is a very sharp, witty writer - I've read three of his books and watched him on HBO's Real Life with Bill Maher. Here, he shows a sweet, tender side. I mean, just look at him looking at Terry. Adorable!

I know it's impossible to think of things getting better when you're caught in a terrible situation. But hopefully these videos can help closeted teens realize that they will have dignity as open, proud men and women. They can meet their true love, be successful, have a wonderful life filled with people who support them.

While he wasn't a victim of bullying, I still remember the disbelief and sadness I felt when I found out that someone I knew had killed himself. My thoughts are with the friends and families of Tyler, Justin, Seth, Billy and Asher.


Pam said...

When I heard about Tyler Clementi today I was devastated. I haven't been able to stop thinking about him and how sad the whole situation makes me feel. And to read the stories of these other young people who have killed themselves due to bullying is just unnerving. I love the video that Dan and Terry have made and I hope it reaches all young people who feel that they can't cope with the bullying any longer. My heart goes out to the families and loved ones of these poor young people. May they find peace and serenity.

Esther said...

Thanks for the comment, Pam. It's so sad. I think Dan and Terry's video is great but I fear for the kids who are even too scared to seek out something like that on the Internet. And adulthood can seem so far away when you're tormented daily. I don't know - schools, parents, communities, - all of us, need to do a better job in the language we use, the examples we set.