Monday, October 25, 2010

The "It Gets Better Project"

In light of all the recent suicides of gay teenagers that have been in the news, it would be a crime to not turn our focus to the "It Gets Better Project" that has taken Youtube by storm.

Started with a single posting by Dan Savage (probably the coolest and most prominent gay celebrity in Seattle and arguably the US), the project has mushroomed into an international phenomenon. Even President Obama, Google and Vinny from Jersey Shore have jumped onto the bandwagon. If you can capture the political establishment, top corporations, and popular culture, I think you just might have a movement on your hands!

What's interesting to me is that suicide among gay teenagers, and LGBT people in general is hardly news. Stats from the Human Rights Campaign have shown that suicide is as much as four times more common among gay-identified teenagers as other groups. It's not hard to imagine that kids who grow up gay in rural areas, especially where religious prejudices remain strong, may not have an ally in their struggle for their identities. Outside of parents, schools, sports teams, churches, and friend groups, the only outlet for them may very well be the media.

The It Gets Better Project is truly remarkable in that instead of merely suggesting gay-friendly themes or situations as a television show or music artist would, it projects its message of tolerance directly to your Facebook page and from a diverse host of characters as we have seen in any political cause since perhaps the civil rights movement.

Has our culture finally taken a turn for the better in terms of gay rights that we are no longer willing to accept such realities as gay suicide and bullying in the schools? Could this explain the sudden overwhelming attention the media and institutions are now paying to these issues?

Some activists will take umbrage at Obama's involvement with the It Gets Better Project, with his lakcluster commitment to gay rights over the course of his term. But in truth, I think that there is great reason for optimism. We may not have full equality yet in the United States, but with the recent federal ruling against Don't Ask Don't Tell and the sudden popular groundswell of activism against such a recently untouchable issue as gay suicide, we clearly have a lot to look forward to.

No comments:

Post a Comment