Writer Dan Savage On The It Gets Better Project
In 2010, writer and advice columnist Dan Savage and his now-husband Terry created a YouTube video aimed at LGBTQ kids who were facing harassment. Its message: it gets better.
The It Gets Better Project has now spread across the world, and includes a book and a documentary.
Dan Savage will be speaking Thursday night at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, and he joins The Show's Mark Brodie to talk about how the It Gets Better project has evolved over the time he's been doing it.
On what the It Gets Better project does:
"When the project first started it really kind of forced a cultural breakthrough. It just forced people to acknowledge that LGBTQ kids existed. The culture used to like to pretend that queer people jumped fully formed out of the backs of gay bars at age 21 and what the It Gets Better movement videos, the campaign, when it went viral rubbed in people's faces, made people confront the fact that LGBT youth existed and many were suffering and some were in so much pain that they were killing themselves.
What makes the It Gets Better project such a valuable resource is it took all the sort of hard-earned wisdom and perspective of so many queer adults who put it into a place where queer youth can access that. Survival strategies, coping mechanisms, what I said to my parents, what I did to get out of a bad situation, how I made it better for myself. A kid who's growing up queer, lesbian, gay, bi, trans rarely has lesbian, gay, bi, trans parents or role models or even family members that they know of. The kid who’s bullied because of his race or her faith goes home to parents of the same race same, same faith, who can share with them their own coping mechanisms. And what the It Gets Better project now is it's a resource for queer kids all over the world."
On what it's like for LGBTQ kids today:
"It's sort of the best of times, worst of times to be a queer kid growing up, because you've got supportive parents and there's a gay-straight alliance at your school and you've got some friends who got your back. There's almost never been a better time than right now to be a queer kid growing up. But if you are growing up with homophobic or transphobic family, being bullied at home, if you are going to a school where there is no GSA and no anti-harassment policies, in a way there's never been a worse time to be a queer kid growing up right now because it's almost impossible to hide. It's a real paradox."
On measuring the success of It Gets Better:
"Every time a queer kid takes his own life, some people jump up to say, see it didn't work, the It Gets Better project or any effort. It is hard to measure who hasn't harmed themselves. Newspaper stories don't get written, obituaries don't get written because kids didn’t kill themselves. We’re able to measure it because we hear from kids all the time who were helped by the project. We hear from kids all the time who credit the project with having saved their lives. That's anecdote, not data, but it's pretty powerful anecdote."