WATCH: Yale Students Record It Gets Better Video

Granted they were lucky enough to have the brains, money, connections and encouragement to go to an Ivy League school, but the kids at Yale made a nice It Gets Better Video.

Co-director Sarika Arya said in a commentary:

I and my co-director, Karin Shedd, were inspired by our LGBTQ peers to create the video in the hope of uplifting those silenced by bullying. We are straight allies who believe that security, respect, and dignity (basic human rights) are not hetero but universal. We do not believe your particular sexual orientation dehumanizes you. We are a part of a growing population that cares about you.

Together, we interviewed over a dozen Yale students in one emotionally grueling day. Karin collected additional footage of them in their day-to-day lives, and we spent another three months editing. As we reviewed our work, we realized an urgent need to get a message out to the LGBTQ community, put succinctly by Yale junior, Terrell Carter: “You don’t deserve the pain you’re feeling.” Rather, you have value.

It’d be easy to say that a lot of the gay kids at Yale are probably—though not automatically—from environments where coming out, even if it was traumatic, is not as dangerous as it is for others. But that doesn’t diminish the message.

Arya recounts one particularly moving:

One of our most memorable examples of this was epitomized by someone we never actually interviewed. Instead, Katie Miller, a transfer student from West Point, spoke for Corporal Andrew Wilfahrt, a young man with the U.S. military. Corporal Wilfahrt is gay. When he joined the military, he was not discouraged by the then-active, discriminatory policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” He wanted to serve and lay his life on the line for his country, which included those people who disapproved of his lifestyle.

Corporal Wilfahrt was killed in action in Afghanistan.

“He’s someone that served,” said Katie. “It didn’t matter that he was gay. He gave the ultimate sacrifice for this country, and I continue to have the utmost respect for him.”

It’s Fleet Week here in New York and as we’ve encountered openly gay and lesbian sailors at gay bars here in New York, we find ourselves in awe of their bravery and sacrifice—not just as members of the Armed Forces but as pioneers in a brave new world.

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  • Well

    This is a bit like if Bill Gates told someone who lost their job and had their house foreclosed not to worry because it gets better – just look at me.

  • GayIvy

    This comment is in regards to how this article portrays gay Ivy League students. Yes they all had the “brain” to get into Yale. However, to gain admission to Ivy League schools, you DON’T need “connections,” “money” or even “encouragement.” I didn’t have any of those, and I’m going to an Ivy League school. To assume that they somehow had it easier than other college bound LGBT students is really an unfortunate misconception. And this video does indeed show how much it can get better. You don’t know how far many of them may have come.

    I love Queerty.com, but we all know the importance of breaking stereotypes. This is one of them, and I had to point it out.

  • Guest

    @Well: Well, Well, what you’re saying makes no sense. Just because these people go to an ivy league school doesn’t mean they don’t and haven’t faced homophobia.
    Also, Querty, you too. Just because you perceive these people to be privileged in some way it doesn’t mean they were not endlessly harassed in high school or as young kids.
    They have just as much right to make an it gets better video as anyone else.

  • Guest

    Actually Queerty, I just read the article over again and you did not seem as down on the priveged as I thought. OOOOps!

  • Dan Avery

    It’s entirely possible that these kids were harassed, bullied and even bullied because of their sexual orientation. But the reality is statistically speaking its less likely they were than a LGBT kid from a small town who’s not even going to college. Education is one of the major factors when looking at homophobia. I’m not saying these kids didn’t have it bad, but the probability is that most—not all—had access to resources (be it money, emotional support, a high-school GSA, etc) that other kids don’t.

  • Joe stratford

    What took them so lOng? Yale IS the gay ivy darn it!

  • anon

    “they were lucky enough to have the brains, money, connections and encouragement to go to an Ivy League school”

    They also worked a lot, with constant dedication… Shocking revelation perhaps, but admission in top-ranked universities is not a result of sheer luck.

    It’s a thing to have the brains, it’s another to use them, and it’s yet another to use them tirelessly.

  • Tom

    @GayIvy: My mother makes less than 22,000 a year and my brother graduated from Yale 3 years ago, his grades and talent helped him go there with relatively low loan cost, he even passed on a full academic scholarship to another school because it was Yale he had his set on. Granted he is not gay but students at Ivy League schools come from all different types of economic and social background. To say because someone who is gay from one of these schools had it better is outlandish

  • Yalie

    @Dan Avery: I feel compelled to point out that Yale students, including gay Yale students, come from all over the United States and all over the world. Sure, some are from San Francisco and NYC, but others are from countries where homosexuality is punishable by death, or are from small towns and urban centers where being gay resulted in near-constant harassment. As an undergraduate at Yale, I can easily think of several of my classmates who faced physical torment as a result of their sexuality or gender identity.

    I’d also like to know what “statistics” you’re talking about that say that Yale students were less likely to be bullied than everyone else. I know quite a few Yale students who are at Yale _precisely because their experiences in high school were so bad_. Yale was an escape for a lot of people. (And, given the fact that Yale abolished student loans for low-income students, it also happened to be quite an affordable escape.)

    Please don’t erase the very real experiences of bullying and homophobia that countless people experienced simply because of your misguided notion of what it means to be a Yale student.

  • Well

    @Guest and others, I’m not so much referring to their past as to their present and their future. Of course it gets better for Yale students, who have their bright future as masters of the universe to look forward to.

    I work and teach at an Ivy league, by the way, so I know first hand just how privileged all the students are in their present, no matter what their past. But the large majority of students here grew up very privileged too, and they certainly act it.

  • Matt

    It gets better is just a bullshit PR campaign, nothing more. Telling LGBT and hetero 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.

  • ilovesomosas

    Eh, I go to an Ivy League school but came from a solidly middle class family with no connections or money. The whole image of Ivy Leaguers being a bunch of waspy East Coast Elitists hasn’t been true for decades. Sure back in the 50’s it was that way, but now a days most of the “typical” Ivy League students are Asian and Indian. All of the schools have really made it their mission to increase economic and racial diversity, and they’ve done a pretty good job. I do know a few wealthy, well-connected kids, but they are definitely the minority.

    On another note, I will say that being gay at an Ivy League school is ridiculously easy. People just don’t really seem to care, which to me, is far better than some of those crazy liberal schools like Berkeley where its LGBTQIZY QUEER RADICAL PRIDE PARADE!!!!! everyday with rainbow flags thrown in your face on campus. At the Ivies, being gay is like having green eyes. No one really gives a shit.

  • Marcus

    IloveSamosas you’re FOS. There are tons of rich white kids at the Ivies and that’s what they’ve always been about. There are also a lot of rich Asians too.

  • arlo

    I agree with Well…it’s ridiculous for these people to act like it got better for anything other than the fact that they’re highly intelligent. They got into Yale for no other reason than college entrance exam scores (and mommy and daddy being rich).

  • ilovesomosas

    @Marcus: I’m full of shit? Really? Excuse me but I go to an Ivy League school. You’re just playing off of tired old stereotypes that aren’t true anymore. I agree that yes, there are a lot of wealthy white kids at the Ivies, but they are now the exception, not the rule. The facts are that EVERY one of the Ivies is need-blind, does not offer merit-based aid (which helps low-income minorities), and have a majority of students receiving financial aid (almost all of which is grant-based). Compare that with schools like NYU and USC.

    My main point is that the opening line of this article is both offensive and just plain inaccurate. Student’s at the Ivies didn’t get in because “they were lucky enough to have the brains, money, connections and encouragement”. The era of the Kennedy’s is over. Getting into an Ivy is about personal ability and how hard you’ve worked, not about your family connections or money.

    The Ivy League has purposely made an effort to get rid of that old image by actively recruiting low-income & minority students. Hell, Cornell now has a 1/3 (1) of its student body being minorities. Columbia is 45%.(2) Penn – 40% (3)

    I’ve spent the last 4 years of my life at an Ivy, and will most likely be spending the next three at another. I know what I’m talking about.

    In case you’re wondering where I got my facts:

  • iDavid

    I liked this vid as it had people telling a lot about their own stories in segments. The editing was really good and it came off really well. If it helped one kid feel better or not take their life, it’s all worth it. The more positive helpful imaging we can put out in the media the better. It can be a dark jungle out there, we need all the sunshine we can get.

  • Guest

    Whether one thinks these kids got to Ivy League schools on their own merit or because they were children of rich parents is really irrelevant to the video. If they were bullied when they were younger and now are in a better place, then “it gets better.”

  • RK

    One of the better It Gets Better Videos I have seen. Seems very genuine and real.

  • VoiceAgainstBullying

    This video is nothing more than an effort by students to do something positive – to touch the lives of those who are struggling with their sexuality, and maybe even save one. Dismissing these students’ message because of where they go to school is counterproductive. Calling all Yale students privileged is not only incorrect, but to do so is to fall victim to the same willful ignorance and spite that lie at the heart of the very problem that this and many videos like it are trying to solve. Many of these students could tell you that they got into Yale because they were bullied in high school and poured themselves into their studies as a means of escape. Others could tell you that they are on financial aid and that they come from low-income neighborhoods; you might be surprised to hear just how hard they had it. But that’s not even the point. These kids are not saying that they’ve struggled more than the next guy. They know they are incredibly lucky. They are simply sharing their own accounts of a struggle that is universal for anyone who identifies as queer.

    This video is a message of hope intended to inspire LGBTQ youth to persevere, to follow their dreams without reservation, and to find a community that loves them. It’s a public service announcement, not a contest, and I urge you to listen to the positive message. Do not be so quick to make false assumptions about who these people are or where they came from. Do not become a bully yourself. The best way to nurture environments where kids of all different backgrounds can be themselves is by supporting our peers in their anti-bullying message. Our voices are stronger and louder in unison – let’s not lose sight of the mission here.

  • Drew

    I went to two Ivy schools and I agree with Markus. Samoas is full of sh)))t and talking out of his/her ass.

  • Ivy League

    Thanks for your insight VoiceAgainstBullying. I think Drew and Markus might have lost sight of the true meaning behind this video.

    Also, I’m not sure what Ivys you guys attended, but it probably wasn’t Yale. There are wealthy white students here, certainly. But they are statistically and factually just not the majority. It would be illegal advertising for Yale to broadcast stats that say otherwise. A university of its calibre and public image, would not risk doing that.

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