When sex columnist Dan Savage and his partner, Terry Miller, launched the It Gets Better Project, it was a groundbreaking personal statement against bullying and the disconcerting rise in gay-teen suicides. Months later, we’ve seen It Gets Better clips from employees at Google and American Airlines, and even one from the President himself.
But we’ve also seen head-scratchers, like the videos from the cast of House, 90210 star Trevor Donovan (whose gay character was just cut from the series) and Zachary Qunito, who has famously dodged questions about his sexuality.
And now professional sports franchises like the Mariners, Red Sox and San Francisco Giants are releasing IGB videos. While the positive gesture is appreciated, we can’t help but wonder if the message is getting lost.
In the dawn of the AIDS crisis, a celebrity wearing a red ribbon at an awards ceremony was making a bold statement. But within a few years everyone from Milton Berle to Mel Gibson was sporting one. Eventually ribbons of every color are used to promote awareness of breast cancer, domestic abuse, chronic-fatigue syndrome and even the pro-life movement.
There is an unparalleled power in a personal narrative of overcoming discrimination (as anyone who read the New York Times’ coming-out series can attest.) But when straight celebrities—some of whom are probably bullies themselves—give lip service to something like It Gets Better, it loses its bite. The messages of these big-name contributors are getting more and more watered down and if presented by a corporate entity like the Red Sox are scripted and thoroughly vetted. As Savage himself has said, kids have amazing bullshit detectors. And when Kim Kardashian records an It Gets Better video, it’s not just her butt that’s fake.
What do you think? Is the It Gets Better Project at risk of being co opted?