WATCH: SFPD Becomes First Cops In Nation To Make “It Gets Better” Video

Though cops across the nation have marched in Gay Pride parades, the San Francisco Police Department is the first of its kind to produce an “It Gets Better” video. It features a heartfelt message from SFPD commissioner Greg Suhr and teary coming-out stories from out officers of the peace.

“I was a smallish young man growing up here in San Francisco,” says Suhr in the opening of the video. “And I’d get bullied all the time, even though I had many brothers and sisters. I really appreciated it when people stood up for me. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to grow up as an LGBT youth today. Nobody deserves to be taunted or bullied. It does get better, and until it does, we here in the San Francisco Police Department are going to stick up for you.”

Memo to the NYPD and LAPD: get the cameras rolling, stat!

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  • The Real Mike in Asheville

    What is surprising to me is how long it has taken for SFPD to do this. Geez, the San Francisco Giants made their video a year ago.

  • WJoaquin

    It does get better, especially if you’re a cop whose buddies stick up for you no matter what kind of horrible violent acts you perform on unarmed and innocent civilians. Maybe if cops hadn’t been some of the worst perpetrators of violence against the gay community over the past century I would buy this nonsensical video.

  • Fitz

    @The Real Mike in Asheville: I’m surprised it happened at all. Like PD’s in other progressive towns, the SFPD actually has a very
    rough reputation on how it treats LGBT people. People of my generation don’t think
    “Oh good, the SFPD is here” when we see their cars in our neighborhood.

  • The Real Mike in Asheville

    @WJoaquin: @Fitz:

    Certainly there is a very checkered anti-gay past in most all PDs across the country; indeed, the Stonewall riots were riots against the NYPD.

    But that does not mean its fair to smear an entire police force over the conduct of their predecessors and the conduct of remaining bigots.

    I lived in the East Bay from 1974-1990 and SF directly through 2000. I attended my first of a dozen SF Pride in 1979, participated in the Harvey Milk vigil, attended the mass protests at the 1984 Democratic National Convention in SF, was there throwing rocks during the White Night Riots, and some rock throwing at the Veto of AB101 protests. My hubby and I were quite open, owned a small but well-known store that actively supported gay rights and AIDS fundraising (my hubby regularly wore his “Big Fag” t-shirt all the time). Not once did I fear being a victim of SFPD anti-gay violence.

    Further, in the 3 direct involvement situations with SFPD (on-going 3AM auto-alarm // fending off a mugging // home burglary), SFPD I have had, and in all cases it was clear that I was gay/boyfriend and I in gay relationship. The officers were polite, courteous, and helpful.

    Now I know that there are dozens of incidents where other gays/lesbians had bad experiences. But that is my point, some cops are good guys/gals and some are bigots, but blanket accusations like blanket applause fail to cover the exceptions.

    So, yeah Fitz, there have been 3 times when I was extremely glad to say “Oh, good, the SFPD is here!” — they got the offending auto-alarm motorcycle towed; they recovered my mom’s Chanel purse that was grabbed when we were mugged; and they searched, with guns drawn, our apartment (we walked in on the burglary), and did catch the culprits.

  • WJoaquin

    @The Real Mike in Asheville: It’s true that police are becoming less homophobic but they’re still unnecessarily violent and authoritative as a whole. It’s no secret that people across the country have been arrested just for FILMING the police, not to mention the still-horrible manner in which the police treat racial minorities, particularly African-Americans. I don’t care what their new outreach program to LGBT people looks like. They’re still the same old thugs.

  • JB

    I think having a government agency especially a police department doing an “It Gets Better” video is great! I work at a police department just outside Los Angeles and I believe our department is rather “gay friendly.” They consist of all ranks and all internal departments (sworn/civilian). Mind you they are all female. I am the only ‘out’ male gay person at my department. I tend to flaunt from time time, but everyone seems okay or tolerable. And being in a male dominating profession, it’s especially hard for me. Fortunately, I believe I work with great people.

  • Allen D.

    @JB: Amen & good to hear. Salt Lake City is also very accepting of gay officers (something I was really surprised at). Straight females? Oddly… not as much. Lesbian females, fine. Gay men, fine. Straight women? Not so much.

    Good for SFPD.

  • David

    It gets better is just a bullshit PR campaign, nothing more. Telling kids to put up with bullying until they leave school is not constructive advice. It’s cruel. School boards, school administrators, teachers, etc, need to have zero tolerance policy for bullying. It’s not uncommon for teachers to bully unpopular kids themselves. That’s where the changes need to be made… The reason “It Gets Better” caught on with politicians and celebrities is because it’s great PR and it requires absolutely NOTHING from them in the way of real action.

  • Allen D.

    @David: Agreed, but until that happens — I think it makes a difference to remind kids that the school-bullying situation is temporary. I was never bullied. BUT, I remember the short-sighted thinking I had back in school. Whatever happened was ‘life’. Never giving any thought to how my life would be 10 years down the road. I think it’s a powerful message. The response videos from kids show that they’re taking the message to heart & I applaud that.

  • Oh, ok.

    @David: Way back when I was in middle school I had a teacher make me stay behind for yelling “STOP IT!” at two people bullying me by throwing things and calling me names for the entire class. She said nothing to them the whole time they were doing it and nothing after the class.

    I was furious and walked out to my next class ignoring her. She grabbed my bookbag and I pulled myself away. She fell back into some computers and ran to the principle saying I pushed her into them. I was totally unaware and went to my next class.

    I almost got kicked out of public schools because I was being picked on.

    Absolutely nothing has changed, except now bullies have the internet too keep it going indefinitely. All I had back then was word of mouth claiming I pushed a woman, no one was picking on me, and she wanted me to stay after class for yelling for no reason.

    “It Gets Better” is a bunch of bullshit and people should be lambasting Dan Savage for lining his pockets by making lazy videos that do nothing to change the real problem.

    Like you said schools and THE GOVERNMENT need a zero tolerance policy for bullying in schools. If the bullies can’t get it through their thick skulls then kick them right the fuck out. They don’t deserve to be there.

    I had to struggle all through school from that point on because I didn’t trust teachers or other students anymore(gossip that I pushed her even spread to my own “friends” when I never laid a finger on her).

    What I went through back then could’ve drove a person to kill himself or herself so I can only imagine what kids go through now with these relentless morons who use other kids as punching bags.

    There are a lot of things that stem from being bullied while developing mentally, things I’m still dealing with as an adult. These schools need to wake up and realize that. An intelligent student who loves learning can easily turn into someone who struggles to even be in the building behind bullies which in turn ruins their chances later on for good careers.

    I was bullied the entire time I was in school, including college, and no it didn’t “get better”. I had to fight tooth and nail to repair my life because I refused to let them win. But a lot of damage had already been done and I missed out on a lot including things like prom, dorm life, and dating early on.

    Every time I see another moron join Dan Savage’s legion of idiots I grit my teeth a little hard. They don’t get it.

  • The Real Mike in Asheville

    @Oh, ok.: [An aside, my name too was appropriated by another, I think it was NoBama, so joined under my new “The Real”; I flagged the phony post and a response post so, perhaps, Queerty could block the offending IP, not sure though. Anyway, you might need to join, that seems to be the only way to stop highjacking user names here.]

    I think you are missing the purpose of the IGBP and how it works. Based on your own story, is your life now, today, better than when you were under daily bullying attack? An honest yes or no; no yeah buts or no buts, has life gotten better?

    If the answer is no, then the blame is not IGBP, the blame is the adults who still bully you. At IGBP, there are scores of video posts from other adults still being bullied and how the victims have been able to rescue themselves from their plight.

    If the answer is yes, that too really has nothing to do with IGBP. If life has gotten better it is solely the result of your doing — getting help, finding safe zones, standing up — actions you took to improve your life over bullying.

    Whatever it is that you have done to improve your quality of life, well, perhaps your story could help lead an up-and-coming gay kid bypass some of the torment by adopting some of your tactics. And that is what the IGBP is about — former victims of bullying offering support and tactics to current victims.

    From your posts you write about on varying subjects, I was taken a bit by surprise the level of bullying you report — your commitment to reason and logic in your posts and contributions of opinion, do not seem to be reduced by your experience, to the contrary, they are stronger for your having to fight for your voice. From what you wrote, it certainly appears that you could offer a great IGB video — look at what you overcame and succeeded.

    There are tens of thousands of kids who will enter a new school this year, and every year, who are going to be victims of bullying for their first of many days to years. Just where you were entering school the first time someone yelled fag or pushed you into a locker. Think of how you can help them. Maybe the IGBP is not the right vehicle, but the spirit of bringing help and support to these kids is so much more important than whether Dan Savage is a media whore or gay hero.


    NOTE TO ALL: The IGBP is not some magic concept that will suddenly put an end to bullying and suicide. But it does and has brought great awareness to the problem.

    Alas, approximately 100 kids (age 15-24) commit suicide every week in the US. Per the CDC, gay kids are about 3 to 3.5 times more likely to commit suicide. So, instead of 3 or 4 of those 100, approximately 9-14 of them are gay. There are going to be tragic suicides for many years to come; but if IGBP eases bullying and suicide, each and every life saved is a victory. We hear loudly, and rightly, of the tragic loses; IGBP has many many stories we don’t hear about, the kid who was beginning to plan a suicide who no longer is.

  • Oh, ok.

    Yes my life is better now and I guess my opinion is more influenced by my own experiences than I realized till I posted that.

    I wasn’t even bullied for being gay, I was just short, and innocent looking. Even when I got taller I still had and have this innocent child-like face that makes me an easy target. The only way I could get through that kind of commentary was too block it out which after years of that makes it entirely too easy to block everything out including positive comments. I’m often told now that I can’t take a compliment.

    I guess I will try a video first and see what happens. At the end of the day it’s really not about Dan Savage or what he’s doing so I’ll forget about him.

    I really want to thank you for your response because I really feel inspired to do something about it now. I mean I know what it’s like to be bullied by both students and teachers so I can probably offer some advice to students that I didn’t have at the time(like talk to your parents for starters…).

  • The Real Mike in Asheville

    @Oh, ok.: I’m glad you came back to this story to check the comments. From the comments posted here and other blogs, too many folk make the mistake that the IGBP is about Dan Savage when it is not. IGBP is about helping kids through a difficult time by those who have been there before. I’m 52, so 35-40 years ago, there ZERO references for gay kids to even see a gay person portrayed in a positive light, and that includes gay literature!

    For me, thank God for the Mitchel Brothers, Armistead Maupin and Harvey Milk. The Mitchell Brothers came to our high school civics class promoting the First Amendment. Though they were part of the straight porn world, the message was Live and Let Live, and they quoted from the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution to make their political points.

    Armistead Maupin was the first writer I found who portrayed gays, lesbians, bi-s, and trans in good light — making them all heroes.

    And of course, Harvey Milk, whom I met briefly as he was working a campaign table at Castro and 17th, I followed his election and then the fight over the Briggs Initiative.

    How wonderful it would have been to see videos of others who succeeded against the tide. In those days and at that age, you truly felt so alone, so weirdly unique, so confused. Wow, it would have been so different.

    We hear of the on-going tragedies of those kids who still reach the suicide point; I just can’t imagine that there are now hundreds of kids who will not go there because of IGBP. (Based on CDC stats, an estimated 150-200 suicides of gay 16-24 year-olds per year.)

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