Last week we covered the release of a new It Gets Better clip from members of the Greek system at Penn State, and questioned its timing—just one day after a PSU sorority made headlines for a racist photo circulated on Facebook.
Not surprisingly there was a lot of reader response: Some expressed doubts about the video’s intent, while others defended student Nick Doyle’s efforts at raising awareness.
Penn State alum Joseph Pratchenko, a friend of Doyle’s, was critical of the story:
“Please do not insinuate that Nick Doyle’s ‘It Gets Better’ video project, that he as well as many other LGBT activists so tirelessly worked on for months, is something as minimal and divisive as taking attention away from a sorority that decided to dress up as stereotypical Mexican Americans…. Nick released this video “on schedule” with no intentions for it to draw attention away from racism…
By not specifically using the terms ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’ or ‘LGBT,’ Nick was trying to include all classes of people that have gone through bullying. Also, the entire point of the ‘It Gets Better’ project in general is to promote a positive message so it’s really not surprising in the least for the video to not include the term ‘suicide’ considering the negative connotations that follow it.
There are two very transparent reasons Nick Doyle’s PSA found its way to your website. The most obvious reason is that you apparently just wanted to shun it. Yes, shun an ‘It Gets Better’ video as nothing more than a reputation-saver. The second reason revolves around the fact that the school in question is Penn State. Since the Sandusky scandal, journalists and commentators alike have viewed Penn State and its activities as a target on the map for newsworthiness. Your ‘article’ is the perfect example.”
We at Queerty have been very supportive of It Gets Better, but we also ask questions about those who might have an agenda for joining the campaign. While it’s clear the Penn State clip was started well before Chi Omega got into trouble, how and why the video was made are open to interpretation. That said, we appreciate Joseph coming forward to give his perspective.
Writer-director Liesel Reinhart defends Doyle’s video and says Penn State is simply trying to heal itself after a tumultuous period. In an email to Queerty, Reinhart wrote, “I hope we can set aside our cynicism and recognize the positive actions that Penn State and their performing arts leaders are making to ensure that young people on their campus and in their community feel supported and optimistic about their futures.”