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  It Gets Over

Is “It Gets Better” officially useless?

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 Timescoming-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?

By:           Dan Avery
On:           Jun 21, 2011
Tagged: ,

  • 70 Comments
    • Jordan
      Jordan

      As much as I hate to say it, I really agree. Making an “It Gets Better” video seems to be the newest fashionable thing for celebrities and public figures to do and they all seem so fake. Give me the early videos from actual bullying victims that spoke from their heart, not from their publicist.

      Jun 21, 2011 at 2:02 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • ewe
      ewe

      It is not useless. It is a tool but it must be accessed as a resource by more people that are currently using it. There is nothing useless about honesty and personal strengh.

      Jun 21, 2011 at 2:03 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • erikdsteel
      erikdsteel

      I call calling stuff over over.

      Cognitive dissonance about sports teams making It Gets Better videos does not ipso facto delegitimize It Gets Better. That’s like saying straight people having butt sex makes butt sex “officially useless.”

      Jun 21, 2011 at 2:08 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • adam
      adam

      Who cares if some of the videos are not as powerful as others? The project has provided isolated gay kids with a huge range of messages of hope, support, advice and understanding they can access. They will be able to pick out and focus on whichever ones are most meaningful and helpful to them personally from amongst wide selection. It has provided a resource.

      This article is like asking “Are libraries officially useless since some books in them are not as powerful or well written as others and some celebrities publish books as vanity projects?”.

      Jun 21, 2011 at 2:15 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Abel
      Abel

      Awareness of the project has only just begun to filter into mainstream America. It will help young gay folks trapped in homes and communities where they fear for their lives. Just to know that so many people out there are willing to say “You’re okay” is a good thing. The “It Gets Better” project will save lives, and will change lives for the better. The fact that some celebrities and sports teams participate gives it publicity and validation. So this is not over, not by a long shot.

      Jun 21, 2011 at 2:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Chip
      Chip

      Well, honestly, it’s not as useless as Queerty.

      Jun 21, 2011 at 2:25 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • PLAINTOM
      PLAINTOM

      The “It Gets Better” project will save lives. This project is functioning at two different levels, individual and societal.On the individual level different videos will appeal to different kids but every kid can know someone out there is rooting for them. On the societal level it is already changing the norm. Schools in particular are intervening earlier and removing bullies and they are being very public about what behavior is acceptable.Of course the change across the country will be uneven and take time,but it is working.

      Jun 21, 2011 at 2:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • christopher di spirito
      christopher di spirito

      This is “officially” the most “useless” thread I’ve seen on Queerty since the old Davey Wavey threads asking people to rate his hotness.

      Jun 21, 2011 at 2:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Daez
      Daez

      Dan Savage is officially useless. He is a media whore and this is just his latest stunt to try to make himself look somewhat relevant. That said, these cushy, lovey bullshit videos were useless to start because look at your typical teenager going through all this shit and ask yourself exactly who they listen to. They don’t listen to their teachers, they don’t listen to their parents, they don’t listen to their authority figures, and you honestly expect them to listen to some B-rate celebrity that they give a crap less about? Even if they did, the message basically boils down to “Just kiss ass a little longer and the world will become all sunshine and lollipops.” Being bullied is a much better preparation for real life which is HARD AND BRUTAL than that message is.

      How about a real message such as, “if you want this shit to stop grow some fucking balls and stop it!” Or, “bullies very rarely bully you after you kick their ass!” Messages like that might have made an actual difference. These are just jokes that are looked more at by adults than actual teenagers.

      Jun 21, 2011 at 2:46 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Erich
      Erich

      I say Hell to the No. If I had watched even one It Get’s Better video when I was kid, that would have gone a long way towards reducing the damage that my ultra-religious parents inflicted on me. Instead I got to hear things like, “Thank God AIDS is killing all the queers,” and “Someone should round up all the fags, put them on an island and nuke it.”

      For real, those are just two of the things that my mother said to me when I was a kid. So yeah, someone telling me that gay is normal, good and that there was a better life waiting for me after I got older. Yeah, that shit would have helped out tremendously.

      Jun 21, 2011 at 2:46 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Dillon Font
      Dillon Font

      IGB was co-opted the moment the boys of “The A-List” did their spot back near the beginning of the whole project.

      And there’s been many people using the IGB project to promote themselves/their organizations / their causes.

      This is why, I believe, Dan Savage emphasizes that the best, life-saving videos are the ones from regular, everyday queers, and in every interview I’ve heard with him discussing the project, it is these videos that he champions.

      And these the videos that will save lives (we hope).

      The more self-promo pieces do serve a purpose – they keep the IGB project at the top of the pop culture landscape. IGB already has had a startling amount of longevity and pop culture reverence, considering how quickly things “in vogue” disappear from group conciousness.

      Jun 21, 2011 at 2:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Daez
      Daez

      @PLAINTOM: For starters, those schools give a rats ass about these videos. They do care about national public outcry, but that is only as long as parents think there is a problem. As soon as that goes away, they will go back to the status quot of kissing the richest tax paying parents ass (which are normally the conservatives) in order to get what they want from the school board and the community. Also, just because you hear from a few schools that were basically threatened into allowing tolerance (not acceptance) by ACLU lawsuits actually bothering to do what they should have done anyways does not mean your average school in Poedunk, MN, is suddenly going to create a gay rights initiative.

      Jun 21, 2011 at 2:50 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • fredo777
      fredo777

      No, it is not useless, + I don’t really understand the motivation behind painting a campaign to stop lgbt teens from committing suicide as potentially useless. If one kid sees a video message from a celebrity (or non-celebrity) that they can relate to for some reason (even if it is a reality star like Kardashian) + it gives them enough hope to live their life, the campaign has been a success. This seems like cynicism for cynicism’s sake.

      Jun 21, 2011 at 2:59 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Johnny Q Doe
      Johnny Q Doe

      The fact that the kids we used to worry about are the ones who are also making the videos now proves that it’s meaningful.

      I agree. Some of the videos are not really up to snuff, but it’s an effort. And ones from companies that speak to folks can be really powerful. I really enjoyed Google Chrome, Pixar and EA games.

      So, perhaps faddish or perhaps orgs are finally understanding the need to be outspoken. I don’t really care. It’s not really something to judge people for, and I certainly don’t think it hurts to really have them floating out there.

      Jun 21, 2011 at 3:04 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kanga
      Kanga

      The project is far from useless, though Savage himself – away from the IGB project – is. His long held previous stances on so many things and his rampant media whoring of late are almost counter-productive to the IGB project, but in its essence it is doing good things because it lets people know they are not alone, that given time and brave endurance things will get better, though ‘better’ by definition is entirely subjective and so many of the people doing vidclips now have no idea of how bad things are or, at least, can be. I can’t stand Dan Savage, but this IGB project has given me enough pause about him that I removed a few pins from the voodoo doll I keep of him. ;-)

      Jun 21, 2011 at 3:22 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Adam
      Adam

      @erikdsteel: Well said. And the individual who said this thread was far more worthless hit the nail on the head. Another attempt to drum up controversy…

      Jun 21, 2011 at 3:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • cccole
      cccole

      While I generally think that pro-gay things being trendy is a good thing, especially campaigns directed at queer youth, I think it’s more useful to think about the limitations of something like the It Gets Better campaign. The presumption behind it is that when kids grow up, move away from home and go to college, they will be able to choose the people around them and the course of their lives and thus life will improve. Unfortunately, for the least privileged members of the young queer community, this isn’t reality. Most queer street kids (30-40% of homeless youth) don’t make it off the street. IGB is a valuable thing for a lot of queer kids, but not necessarily for those facing certain other intersecting oppressions. These kids need more than encouragement; they need access to education, work, shelter, etc. I think Dan Savage probably knows this.

      Jun 21, 2011 at 3:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Dallas David
      Dallas David

      The morning in 1980 when I saw a TV segment “DISCO-CISE” with a line of pudgy housewives, I knew Disco has sufferred a terrible blow.

      Is Disco still good music? Sure it is.

      But commercial interests will find a way to attach themselves to good causes if it makes them look better in the general community. Most big corporations make sure you know about all the charitable causes they support, and it’s no difference with the It Gets Better project. But that doesn’t mean that there still won’t be people who make good videos for the kids.
      Heterosexual’s videos won’t be near as effective as famous glbt’s. Who cares if the straight CEO of AT&T says It Gets Better? How would he know?
      But if the Command Sgt. Major of the Marine Corps makes a video that says, “Yes, I was a closeted gay kid, and High School sucked, but if you hang in there, I promise you it gets lots better.” I think there is still room for messages like that . . .

      Jun 21, 2011 at 3:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jeffree
      Jeffree

      If a single video speaks to one person struggling with their thoughts & feelings & questions about being L, G, B, or T, it’s worth it. Hearing a message that counteracts the religious mantra of “You’re going to burn in h€ll” is a great start.

      I’ve talked with even a few people outside the target age-range who said it makes a big difference just hearing someone else say “It gets better ” or “Yep, it has gotten better for me.”

      I could do without some of the celebs who have no real connection to the Q-force, but those phonies are quickly passed over to the next vid.

      Also, I don’t see any real downside.

      And the ones in foreign languages are getting lots of hits. Let’s here from more Slovenians & Maltese, yo!

      Jun 21, 2011 at 4:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • wtf
      wtf

      @Daez:
      What about the kid that fights back, and then is killed because the bully he beat up brought friends the next time. It sounds a lot like your an angry little boy that is pissed because he had no friends to stand up for him. When in reality you probably had no one not because you were the bullied kid but because your attitude is shitty.

      People like you are worse than bullies, because your telling them they deserve. They already think they deserve it, which is why so many kill themselves, what they need is It Gets Better and other campaigns and adults telling them they don’t.

      Jun 21, 2011 at 4:37 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Elloreigh
      Elloreigh

      Good article, terrible headline. So let me address the headline first:

      “Is “It Gets Better” officially useless?”

      My gut reaction is to say ‘no’. I do think the quality and usefulness of the individual videos is certainly open to question, though. I’ll refrain from commentary on the project’s originator.

      As for the article, I have to agree that as the message begins to be used by groups further and further removed from the direct experience of surviving a bullied youth (which I did), the message becomes watered down and less useful (at far as its original purpose goes, anyway). I think there is indeed a danger of it being co-opted. But I disagree with the premise that this renders the campaign useless.

      To borrow from the writer’s example of the AIDS ribbon: one red ribbon on one celebrity is a bold statement. A bunch of red ribbons on a bunch of celebrities represents growing awareness. Co-opting the idea for other causes didn’t render it useless – it simply meant it was a good idea with broader applications. I view the “It Gets Better” campaign in much this same way.

      Jun 21, 2011 at 4:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Elloreigh
      Elloreigh

      Nearly forgot to say this part: The measure of whether “It Gets Better” is useless isn’t opinions expressed in reaction to this article – it’s whether some bullied kid is actually helped in the real world by seeing one of the videos.

      Jun 21, 2011 at 4:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • bob
      bob

      “It gets better.” How? Adult gays face the same issues that teens do. It’s in the news everyday. Let’s find something reassuring to tell these kids that isn’t just a blatent lie.

      Jun 21, 2011 at 4:43 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Red Meat
      Red Meat

      @Jordan: … This is what we want idiot. When it is socially accepted and known that gays are being miss treated, kids growing up seeing this will be better off even if the republican saying it is full of shit, republican kids will believe him.

      Damn, people are so stupid in our community. Its no surprise we are still second class hookers.

      Jun 21, 2011 at 5:29 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Meher Zaman
      Meher Zaman

      The “It gets Better” project is over in name but the MESSSAGE should live on forever.

      Jun 21, 2011 at 5:34 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • James
      James

      Wow, there are some good points on this thread, some I had not really given much thought to. I hope it isnt a waste, I hope it helps people, even if it helps some reality persona gain more camera time. Maybe some straight celebs or sports teams will bring the message to a straight kid who was headed toward becoming a bully.

      Jun 21, 2011 at 5:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • WillBFair
      WillBFair

      No, it isn’t useless. But a new phase should start.
      We should have organizations that mentor men, 19 to 25, who need to recover from high school. Young gay men are being unsafe, which is probably because the early abuse robs them of their self worth. So we need mature people to encourage them, and to lay down the law about safe sex.
      Of course, it won’t happen. The community has never been much interested in halting the spread of hiv. It’s some thirty years and counting, and we still haven’t stopped it.

      Jun 21, 2011 at 6:59 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • papparon
      papparon

      There are Kids out there alone and confused who still have never heard of the IGB or Trevor Projects – until every last gay kid in the world feels safe and secure, there will be a need for these efforts – We should be thankful that people like Dan Savage at least didn’t sit on his lazy ass (as some of his critics do) – he got up and DID something and he deserves respect just for that.

      Jun 21, 2011 at 7:06 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Chris
      Chris

      I’ve always opposed it for its very existence. “It gets better” just isn’t that helpful to the suicidal and bullied kids they are attempting to target. What does it even mean? We should be focusing our efforts on anti-bullying school policies and improving the lives of these kids, not making youtube videos to pat ourselves on the back about “saving uncountable numbers of lives”. The message is defeatist and often times a lie.

      Jun 21, 2011 at 7:06 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Dakota Hart
      Dakota Hart

      It is self evident even to the writer of this article what the Intent was the rest is well thought and robustly articulated.

      Jun 21, 2011 at 7:21 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • fredo777
      fredo777

      @Chris: How do you know how helpful it is to those suicidal kids if you’re not one of them?

      Jun 21, 2011 at 10:04 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Queer Supremacist
      Queer Supremacist

      @bob: Thank you. It’s time someone else said it. These videos were useless from the get go. Things don’t magically get better because of fate, destiny, or mystical hoo-ha like that. They only get better if you choose to make them better. The only IGB video I saw that I tolerated was one that made that exact same point

      @Daez: Agreed. We don’t need any more passivity and fatalism. We need to teach gay kids and adults to fight back, to be the ones throwing the last punch, not the first.

      Jun 21, 2011 at 10:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Erich
      Erich

      @Chris – That’s not true. I grew up in a small town, population around 1,000. I was the only gay person I knew. I thought I was a freak and an abomination destined for Hell until I was in my mid-20s. If I had known that there were other gay people out there, living full rich lives, my high school years would have been so much better. Anti-bullying programs are only as good as the school administration putting them out there. A girl in my high-school was suspended on the suspicion – no proof – that she had kissed another female student. The IGB project allows small-town American kids to know that there’s (an awesome) life beyond where you grew up, and to live long enough to get there.

      Jun 21, 2011 at 10:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Interesting
      Interesting

      It was useless from the start. It had little connection to what people who work on suicide issues would say works. That should tell you something. It was from someone who had his heart in the right place (I don’t doubt he means well like some here), but it was a bad idea because it wasn’t focused on systemic long term support (which is what is badly needed to reduce suicide).

      Jun 21, 2011 at 10:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Aaron
      Aaron

      I take the biggest issue with the fact that IGB basically is spreading a message of inaction. That is in part why I think politicians were so quick to jump on board. They didn’t have to commit to drafting legislation to actually make gay teens’ lives better, they just told them that when they get older maybe life won’t suck less!

      But the sheer number of people who have chosen to make an IGB video would seem to do the very opposite of showing its ineffectiveness. When the voice of the Zeitgeist is telling gay people it’s going to be okay and that the bullies are losers, it robs the shrinking minority of homophobes of their credibility which is EXACTLY the kind of climate I want to raise children in.

      Jun 21, 2011 at 11:04 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Eminent Victorian
      Eminent Victorian

      The impetus for this campaign was borne out of the right things, and it was begun in earnest and surely has done some good . . . but it has become become something else, without much weight. Even at some points in the beginning all I felt while watching was, “Yeah it gets better, when you’re rich,” and that’s not terribly helpful to bullied kids, especially if they’re economically disadvantaged.

      Jun 21, 2011 at 11:26 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Josh
      Josh

      Nobody knows what it is like to be a gay kid except gay adults. Messages from gay people who have been there are powerful and effective. Messages from sports teams who have to be petitioned to be created or by politicians who will not stand up fir marriage equality (Clinton & Obama) mean nothing to gay kids – those messages serve only the careers of their creators. I feel straight people should butt out and let this be a conversation between gay kids and gay adults.

      Jun 21, 2011 at 11:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Josh
      Josh

      Oh yeah… To the Dan savage haters – go to hell! If Savage is embracing every opportunity to be seen and be heard good for him! We need strong, vocal advocates to get in people’s faces and fighting for our cause, good for him and good for us! I can’t think of anybody else stands up for gays with as much conviction and eloquence as Savage and you should be writing him Thank You cards – not complaining like a bitchy, ungrateful little teenager. What are YOU doing for gay rights? Don’t bite the hand that feeds you!

      Jun 21, 2011 at 11:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ganondorf
      Ganondorf

      That’s right. When Dan Savage wins, we all win. His success (whatever and whenever) is our success, and if you don’t believe that, why you’re just one of those hating haters who hates. The haters.

      Sick of this. It’s over, whatever. It’s a more popular no on h8. I want numbers proving this is effective or it’s not. Haters!

      Jun 22, 2011 at 12:04 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • alan Balehead
      alan Balehead

      MIchael Savage needed to raise his profile for his reality show……this was not really about the kids? Big surprise…

      Jun 22, 2011 at 12:31 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jeffree
      Jeffree

      @alan balehead-brickman. Michael Savage & Dan Savage are two different people. You can criticize Dan’s motives all you want, but the project has been trailbreaking. Guy’s gotta make a living.

      Jealous much?

      Jun 22, 2011 at 1:01 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • mk
      mk

      @Interesting:

      It was useless from the start. It had little connection to what people who work on suicide issues would say works. That should tell you something. It was from someone who had his heart in the right place (I don’t doubt he means well like some here), but it was a bad idea because it wasn’t focused on systemic long term support (which is what is badly needed to reduce suicide)

      Something not being ideally perfect doesn’t make it useless. Systematic long term support to gay kids in hostile communities and homes is not realistically possible any time soon, not in any official or in person fashion. That was the reason for the campaign in the first place, it was a make do to get around the barriers bigots put up to keep sexuality education, anti-gay bullying campaigns and out adult LGBT people as a whole from accessing schools and communicating with kids. The accusations of recruiting are used to keep us out. The videos are a way to send messages to gay kids without having to get approval or go through official channels. The video are permanently available and there is an enormous number and variety of them. They are available as a long term support that kids can keep turning to to give them inspiration, hope and ideas. They may not be the ideal support, but we are living in the real world not an ideal one.

      Jun 22, 2011 at 1:49 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • mk
      mk

      There have been a lot of IGB videos made by regular people. You don’t have to get rich for things to get better than they were when you were a kid in school, just getting the freedom, independence and improved confidence of adulthood is enough to make it better than it was for many, many LGBT people. The gay adults making videos are supposed to describe their journey – saying how it used to be for them, how it got better for them and what their life is like now. Even a video of straight allies saying there’s nothing wrong with being gay can be helpful in letting kids know not all straights are hateful, though, and if nothing else it sends a message of tolerance to the straight fans of celebrity gay allies.

      Nobody said IGB can or should be expected to fix everything. It’s supposed to be just one tool in the toolbox.

      Jun 22, 2011 at 1:56 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Gb
      Gb

      I agree with #35 and some of the other comments. While this project has some positives, like raising awareness of bullying, in reality it mostly benefits the self-promotion of Dan Savage and the politicians/celebrities/corporations who have contributed. It is like Facebook activism — do next to nothing and get to feel like a big hero about it. First of all, the message is simply not effective in helping someone with suicidal thoughts, and you can ask anyone who works in suicide prevention this. Secondly, and most importantly, it basically advocates doing nothing! You know, because “it gets better” automatically, so no problem – just go through a few years of hell and then it’ll all be great. Thirdly, the message itself might be true for middle/upper middle class kids who are smart and have a support system, but for many many kids who don’t have all those advantages, it doesn’t get better at all. And just saying to them “it gets better” is frankly insulting. Not everybody is going to be a rich sex columnist who is on TV all the time.

      Jun 22, 2011 at 2:06 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Dave
      Dave

      I think that while it’s possible some of the straight celebrities might have been bullies, there is still a chance where they might have been bullied themselves. It could also be possible that they’ve seen the error of their ways (are you the same person you were in high school?) or maybe they feel passionately about gay rights because friends, family etc are gay etc.
      In my humble opinion, IGP should embrace all anti-bullying efforts: gay, straight, black, white, rich, poor.

      Jun 22, 2011 at 2:21 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jeffree
      Jeffree

      When I was a teen, or even younger, it would have meant a LOT seeing someone like me telling me how & why things can get better. I thought too often that I was the only person alive who had those feelings of not fitting in.

      Rant all you like about the celebrities glomming on, but until you have a better idea that can impact people around the world, you’re just NOT getting the fact that one positive message can be a buoy in a storm.

      Jun 22, 2011 at 3:33 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • SteveH
      SteveH

      We probably will never know the identity of any youth who did _not_ commit suicide because he saw one of these videos. But, that does not imply that there are none.

      Gay youth still feel isolated and alone, even though information is far more available now than it used to be. You have to expect that most gay youth will use google and youtube to find information and resources. To be found, positive messages need to exist, and be easy to find. Projects to create such messaging, and keep it fresh and available, do save lives.

      Jun 22, 2011 at 4:07 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DavyJones
      DavyJones

      @Gb: Maybe it’s easier to feel the way you do because you’re not someone who was in a terrible place and looked to these videos (among other things) to find solace; but the truth is, there are many youth who are comforted by them.

      No, I don’t think anyone believes you can “just go through a few years of hell and then it’ll all be great”, and indeed I don’t think the idea behind IGB is to push that mentality. The point of the videos is that even through all the hell you are going through now, when you get older, and have more control over you own future, you can make you situation better; it get’s better. It’s not that things magically get better, no one believes that, certainly not the teens going through hell right now. But too many lose hope that it can ever get better, they lose hope that they can do anything to make their lives worth living; and the point of the videos is to express that that is not the case. Life can be pretty terrible, but in time; it gets better.

      The project itself was trailblazing (as others have noted) in that on a large scale it deified the sort of self-imposed taboo with in the gay community of not reaching out directly to LGBT youth, so as not to appear to be ‘recruiting’, and I can speak from personal experience of teens who have found inspiration from the videos, and the community that has sprung up around them. Yes, I think there are many within the ‘mainstream’ community who have made a video because it is just ‘the thing to do’, but I think even the fact that making a video like this is ‘the thing to do’ speaks volumes to LGBT youth about how the world can be outside of a closed-minded small town. And the heartfelt, truly poignant videos far outnumber the half-hearted made for the hell of it videos.

      I think many who are criticizing the project here are doing so because the only time they’ve ever seen one of these videos is when they’re linked in a blog. They only see the cheesy ‘do-it-to-be-cool’ videos, and don’t feel the project is effective, because they aren’t the target audience for the videos. http://www.itgetsbetter.org is full of touching videos which are truly helpful to those who feel alone, and without hope in their current situation; and honestly, if one teen saw a video and that was what gave him/her the strength to carry on; that makes the project a success.

      Jun 22, 2011 at 5:17 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Stop the Hate
      Stop the Hate

      Dan Savage is a hero. He has managed to accomplish on a shoe-string budget what large Gay rights organizations couldn’t (or refused) to do with millions of dollars in contributions.

      What’s more, the “It Gets Better” project has saved lives, and the sanity of countless Gays.

      Don’t stop your campaign, Dan!

      Jun 22, 2011 at 6:39 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Thelios
      Thelios

      Yes, maybe its become trendy but I wish I had all these people out there making positive statements and reassuring me about my future when I was struggling with my identity in the early 70s. Then, it was an unmentionable topic or horrible messages about how perverted we all are. If stars and sports teams want to come out and send a positive message to kids struggling with their identity and encourage them, why the heck not?

      Jun 22, 2011 at 9:24 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Interesting
      Interesting

      @mk: I think systemic long term support is necessary and is possible if you direct people’s attention toward that goal. If you focus on other things, such as what one hopes to be a short term fix, then the resources will go there. Its a choice.

      Jun 22, 2011 at 10:47 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mike in Asheville
      Mike in Asheville

      Good job Queerty — lets also bash all the various gay/lesbian organizations who labor for marriage equity, non-discrimination laws, help and house thrown-away gay teens, lobby for HIV/AIDS medical care and funding too.

      Certainly, each and every group working for marriage equality have FAILED to get a nationally recognized form of same-sex marriage; damn those still fighting for state and federal gay/lesbian civil rights because we still are not fully equal; screw those who are providing help for gay teens since there are many kids living/surviving on the streets; and, of course, to hell for everyone and every group working to end the scourge of HIV/AIDS since the cure is long away.

      Yep, we homos are just a bunch of lame dolts ….

      ************

      We all get it — Queerty hates Dan Savage. Wonderful — and how is that hate, criticism, and jealousy hellping the cause?

      Perhaps Queerty you should focus on those who truly are enemies of equal civil rights such as: the GOP, Focus On Family, NOM, Repugnatan presidential candidates, the Catholic Cult, and the thousand others.

      ************

      @Chip: @ No. 6: Very droll; well done.

      Jun 22, 2011 at 10:51 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Interesting
      Interesting

      @Gb: Except for the part about knowing people’s motives (I don’t believe we can know why people do the videos), I think you are absolutely spot on. The last point you make- that its insulting to someone facing suicidal thoughts is the most important one. Life is complicated and messy. A lot of kids are smart enough to know that it doesn’t always work out for everyone. There are so many things that go into trying to get someone to not hurt themselves. I used to work on a crisis hot line. And talking someone away from suicide just in the first steps is a lot of work, but then there is also this additional work that comes after. A good support network is what they need. Not bumper stickers.

      Jun 22, 2011 at 10:54 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Interesting
      Interesting

      @Mike in Asheville:(a) First asking about effectiveness is not bashing. One of my clients yesterday brought up the issue with Millenials being that they want to be praised for everything they do with a trophy for just showing up. I said- that’s not true. That’s an American problem. We are “number 1 in health care” because we say that we are. God, help anyone who actually tries point out that’s not true. So, the whole schtick of claiming someone is being bashed for questioning their effectiveness is b.s. Its not reality at all to say we can not think of benchmarks and success rates, etc. That’s the responsible thing to do.

      (b) If you find yourself engage in a hyperbole to construct a straw man so that you can argue against that- then you need to ask yourself: Am I really trying to help? I see your post as mostly hyperbole. Many of the gay organizations aren’t very good. it has to do with comparing them to their effectiveness. To be honest, most progressive groups (I am on the left) aren’t very good. Neitehr are conservative groups. THe later just has societal inertia on its side. That’s why we have to be more effective than they are. They have an easier battle to go when it comes to supporting bullying and attackiong young gay people than we have when it comes to protecting the young gay people being attacked. That’s why we need to think about how effective things are. Lives are at stake if we don’t. That’s not hyperbole. That’s what this should be all about.

      Jun 22, 2011 at 11:02 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Elloreigh
      Elloreigh

      @WillBFair: “We should have organizations that mentor men, 19 to 25, who need to recover from high school.”

      In my experience, most aren’t interested even when the age difference is a mere 5 to 10 years, and their interest is inversely proportional to the length of the age gap. Kids that age still have sex as a primary focus, and they’re tasting real freedom for the first time. They aren’t interested in advice from someone older, telling them what they should do. Their parents have been doing that all their lives, so why would they listen to someone else telling them many of the same things just because that person shares their orientation? They’re at a time in their lives when they retain a feeling of being invincible, coupled with a strong desire to be their own person and determine their own path.

      As someone who once helped run a quasi-support group for gay twenty-somethings, I can tell you without question that many were just looking for a gateway to the gay community, and once they found it they quickly abandoned the support group. They weren’t the least bit interested in being mentored, only in finding their gay peers. Now in the age of the Internet, many don’t even need an organization to provide that gateway.

      Jun 22, 2011 at 12:14 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Laurenq
      Laurenq

      Fully agree with the article. While I think the intentions of starting the campaign were noble (and actually still are noble to the founders I’m sure), the fact that every Tom, Dick, and Harry have made a video takes away from the message and feeling the campaign had when first launched… earlier videos of actual members of the lgbt community talking about their experiences have the most impact.

      Jun 22, 2011 at 12:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ginasf
      Ginasf

      What’s useless is when “It Gets Better” videos are made by large groups of people for the ‘LGBT’ community and there are no trans people (or bi ID’d people) in the video or, as I’ve seen several times, the trans person is literally there to say the word “trans” as a token. When this is in corporate or large organizational environments, the core message it gives young trans people (the group which has the highest rate of teen suicide) is basically, you don’t even belong in the gay community and you sure won’t be getting a job in this company or working for this organization. Not too positive.

      Moreover, other videos (like the recent CBS one or the one from Target employees) completely skirt around other serious issues that company might have with the queer/trans communities. Personally, I don’t care if CBS employees make their little IGB video when their corporation doesn’t have gay/trans characters in their shows except portrayed as jokes or in the case of trans women, as hookers (mostly dead ones). Those are way more impactful messages sent to young people than some ‘It Gets Better’ video they likely won’t watch. There have been a few positive videos in the series I did like… a recent one from tran woman (and People Mag employee) Janet Mock which was someone I think young trans people could really relate to.

      Jun 22, 2011 at 1:12 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • david
      david

      I am tired of hearing it. What I want to know is… “WHEN?”

      I was bullied in high school 30 yrs ago. The scars are still there. I still have nightmares and I still have trouble functioning on a daily basis because of it. So, frankly, this is just lip service for people to further their celebrity.

      You what to make a real statement? Answer the question… WHEN? When does “it get better”? and then maybe this worthless PSA will mean something.

      I’m waiting…

      Jun 22, 2011 at 2:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • disco lives
      disco lives

      Have they actually found any examples of a young gay person watching one of these and deciding not to commit suicide?

      I have always suspected this project is a feel-good tool for grown-ups.

      Jun 22, 2011 at 3:11 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Elloreigh
      Elloreigh

      @Ginasf: “…it gives young trans people (the group which has the highest rate of teen suicide) is basically, you don’t even belong in the gay community”.

      Technically speaking, unless the trans person is also gay, they’re no more a part of the gay community than a cisgendered gay person can be considered part of the trans community (unless you’re using an extremely broad definition of trans as encompassing the full spectrum of gender role non-conformists).

      To clarify: ‘LGBT’ isn’t a community. It’s a mainly political coalition built from several communities with shared issues – one that keeps expanding such that some people now include Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual and Allies in the acronym as LGBTQQIAA, or variations thereof. Regardless of how many letters we tack onto it, it doesn’t make us one big happy family or a community.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m fully welcoming of trans people of all sorts in the coalition. But I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect a campaign whose focus has been chiefly gay people to meet the needs of trans people. Maybe the trans-community should do their own videos (if they haven’t already).

      Or maybe someone needs to make the effort to produce an inclusive video that includes as many representatives from the various groups comprising the coalition as can be assembled. But I think doing the latter gets us back into an issue already raised in comments here – that the message gets watered down when it’s whole groups talking, vs. an individual telling their own story.

      Jun 22, 2011 at 5:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Elloreigh
      Elloreigh

      @david: It’s been 30 years since I graduated high school as well. I too was bullied – practically every day. And it didn’t end when I left high school. I’ve been physically attacked on several occasions – once by a co-worker wielding a pitchfork. I count myself lucky that I escaped those encounters without any serious physical damage, as some of my friends and acquaintances have not been so lucky (1 murdered; 1 beaten and left for dead, suffering permanent brain damage; 1 who had most of his teeth fractured or knocked out; etc.)

      So when is certainly a valid question. I answer it by telling you that despite my experiences, life did get better for me. I found the love of my life right when I was ready to give up. My parents came to the realization that they were losing me right at the point where I was literally ready to write them off entirely.

      Sometimes the degree to which it gets better is a matter of individual circumstance. I still can’t get legally married in my state – in fact my state’s amendment voided the certified domestic partnership that we did undertake. My state has no anti-discrimination laws covering orientation. So some things have not gotten better for me, personally. Others have, as noted above.

      But I don’t think it’s just random chance or all a matter of luck, either. Some of it getting better is when we allow ourselves to take ownership of who we are and reject the shame that others would heap on us. Sometimes it’s a matter of seeking out some additional help (such as the case of my partner, who has experienced problems with anxiety in the past). Sometimes it’s making the really hard decision to move to a better place, or look for a better job.

      In short, when is sometimes at least partially a matter of the individual efforts we undertake to make things better for ourselves. And I’m fully willing to acknowledge that can be harder for some than for others. I wasn’t born into a life of financial privilege, so don’t come away form this thinking I’m some richy rich for whom life has been a breeze. I’ve been through my own hard times, and appreciate the good fortune I have now.

      I wish you the best, and hope that it really does get better for you, too.

      Jun 22, 2011 at 5:41 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ginasf
      Ginasf

      @Elloreigh: What I’m referring to is the continued use of the term “LGBT” when the content in no way includes trans people. That there is little acknowledgment that trans youth have an even higher suicide rate than gay youth. That, for most young people, coming out as a trans person is far more likely to result in social isolation than does coming out as gay.

      In fact, there are a lot of trans people who are either gay, bi or lesbian ID’d… yet for a lot of those people, their trans identity is often placed before their queer identities. As I’ve always said, if Einstein were a trans person, he’d be described as ‘a transsexual who was also incidentally a physicist.”

      Also, statistics involving trans people (when it comes to murder, suicides, discrimination ,etc. are regularly subsumed into the ‘LGBT community’ when gay organizations want to get funding, make a point about oppression, etc. and regularly ignored when they feel like it.

      Jun 22, 2011 at 7:02 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • NickadooLA
      NickadooLA

      The ICB Project is far from useless, but I did fear it would be watered down VERY early on with nonsense the moment the Abbey in West Hollywood set up a video booth in the bar for patrons to record and, immediately, Hollywood publicists were wrangling every B, C and D-list celebrity to go there and shoot a video. While I know many of those celebs messages were probably sincere in content, it was clear that it was being used as a blatant ploy to promote themselves over their messages.

      In the end, though, the more voices out there, the better I think, regardless of how cynical I might be about the motives behind some of the folks lending their voices.

      Jun 22, 2011 at 7:32 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Skip
      Skip

      @Chip: Amen!

      Jun 22, 2011 at 10:06 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Dave
      Dave [Different person #1 using similar name]

      to think that dan savage could generate such a comment post is actually pretty pitiful. but then to come across HIV STIGMA just goes to show how far we have not come since the eighties.
      to think that those who are NEGATIVE live more meaningful and productive lives is utter bullshit when every hiv-positive person i’ve talked to in my years has confided in me that they are much happier with who they are now versus who they were “back then” when they were self destructive.

      what i see: the inability to care for those in your community. Instead, it’s the same ol’ bullshit of making yourselves feel better and more privileged in yet another minority group that is somehow convinced that breaking into a mainstream, CAPITALISTIC, evil hetero-normative society is going to magically make things better – HA! Savage is an A-Gay and is upper middle class and lives in the suburbs with a house and kids and just wants to emulate a Heterosexual lifestyle and thinks that all bisexual and gay men should do this or that we all somehow want to like him. Savage is a media whore with Peter Pan syndrome who just loves attention and can’t get enough of it even if it’s negative attention.

      I find it hypocritical that gay men are claiming that most bisexuals and trans people are somehow victimey or want to celebrate victimhood. Yet if a Straight person or even another gay man or LBT person who can think for themselves says anything criticizing their sacred cows or anything against the “Community” they’re branded as homophobic.

      I’m not sure why so many Savage/It gets better queens on this blog are now claiming and denying that Dan Savage is poz phobic? He clearly is and if you’ve read his “advice” column or listened
      to his podcasts one can easily see how he has major issues with people who are HIV+ and that he is poz phobic. Or how they’re now revising history and claiming that Savage has never been
      bigoted towards bisexuals, trans people, and African Americans.

      Try doing the resarch on these topics for yourself and you will see how Savage is very bigoted.

      It really is just as bad as the shit we get from Heterosexist society and Rev. Phelps but it’s from another GLBT person so it’s 10,000X more hypocritical and worse when it’s from someone on the inside like this.

      fuck this shit. IT DOES NOT GET BETTER!
      you’ll spend your days feeding the wallets of major corporations. allowing them to sell you a version of gay culture that is more concerned with KILLING YOU and this thing you call “individuality.”

      then instead of actually doing anything about being metaphorically “fucked in the ass” by nearly 99% of americans (because queer/GLBT people still fuck queer/GLBT people over in extreme
      ways) you’ll turn to some MONEY-HUNGRY ICON like Dan Savage, and repost false, generic information and claim it as your own.
      and don’t forget the pride celebrations and nightly outings, which take you on a spiral into ALCOHOLISM, meth addiction, bareback sex, and recklessness. where a quarter of you end up hiv-positive because nobody has learned how to talk to one another or give a shit about knowing their status or using condoms either in the heat of the moment or as part of having safer sex. and instead of blaming yourselves, you’ll blame others, until you hopefully realize how fucked up the “community” is, and start living a more productive and meaningful life.

      but fuck it, it’s pride and we all know what that is about, right?
      going out, buying shit, getting wasted, buying more shit, getting more wasted, angry, annoyed, horny, stupid, redundant and ugly.

      well, not so much. it’s about stonewall. it’s about resistance. it’s about a memory and celebrating a time when queers were brave enough to stand up and fight against the system in hopes of thriving and forming their own unique culture. stonewall was a riot! not another dreadful, self-loathing party in the gentrified Castro district while watching your “It gets better” video and pretending that you’re actually doing something and actually helping GLBT youth when you’re just giving them the stock quote that EVERY KID-even straight kids-get when school isn’t going so well or when they’re being bullied.

      Someone like Dan Savage who is a primadonna media whore that does not like bisexuals, people with HIV/AIDS, or Trans people is the last person we need representing gay men and GLBT Americans in the media. Yeah Dan, “It gets better” for you! Then again he did start the IGB project just for self promotion, since he can’t resist jumping on any bandwagon while pretending to give a shit and getting your money and attention, and to get a reality TV show on MTV.

      Savage is a tool, media whore, jumps on any bandwaggon-Started his whole “It gets better” project not to actually help GLBT youth but to self promote he and his husband and get an MTV reality TV show with crocodile tears claiming that he’s for GLBT rights when in reality he hates HIV+ people, bisexuals, and trans people and his “advice” column writings and podcasts on these subjects show his hate.

      Then again he did start the IGB project just for self promotion, since he can’t resist jumping on any bandwagon, and to get a reality TV show on MTV.

      Jun 22, 2011 at 10:27 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Elloreigh
      Elloreigh

      @Ginasf: Acknowledged – all good points.

      Jun 23, 2011 at 12:18 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mike in Asheville
      Mike in Asheville

      @disco lives: Go the the It Gets Better website and read the postings from kids in their own words.

      Jun 23, 2011 at 12:45 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mike in Asheville
      Mike in Asheville

      @Dave: Hey man, take a Xanax or two, cause, damn, you are going to burst a vein.

      Fine, have your issues with Savage; for me, I greatly admire his unapologetic approach to calling out famous bigots, yet I am dismayed by his apparent lack of compassion and understanding of trans people.

      BUT, with regard to the It Gets Better project, and the question posed by Queerty, do you really need to ask?

      There are over 31.5 million American teens x 4% gay/lesbian/think-they-might-be = 1.25 million gay teens. And this year and years after, over 200,000 adolescents graduate into young gay adulthood — every day, over 500 kids make that realization.

      Every new IGB video, even corporate sponsored ones, is one more chance to offer an expression of support to a kid struggling with understanding their sexuality. And yes, of course, these videos are all about “feeling good” as in “feeling good because things have gotten better.”

      Jun 23, 2011 at 1:16 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Art Smith
      Art Smith

      It gets better videos are useless and do nothing to actually stop GLBT teen/youth suicide as there are still GLBT teens killing themselves that you read about in the news.

      Jun 23, 2011 at 4:40 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jeffree
      Jeffree

      @Art Smith: By your “logic”, the Trevor Project & other suicide hotlìnes are “useless” because some people kill themselves after calling them.

      By your reasoning, condoms are useless because they don’t always work.

      Please try harder.

      Jun 23, 2011 at 4:52 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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