Thursday, 9 June 2011
Have you heard of the It Gets Better project? Chances are that unless you're a very well informed gay male or a slightly militant gay activist type like myself, you haven't.
Let me introduce you to a social campaign which I think is just Pretty Damn Fabulous!
Last year within the space of 6 or so months, over 7 young gay teenagers in America committed suicide. Surprisingly for mainstream media, the suicides gathered headlines and made the International news. Now let's just cut right to the chase, this very instant. Right now there are many young gay teenagers trying to commit suicide as you read this very sentence. So why did the world suddenly start paying attention to these 7 individual cases?
It starting paying attention because these 7 young men felt that killing themselves was an easier solution than living in a world where they faced harassment, discrimination and bullying on a daily basis. Some left suicide notes, some didn't. But they all went home and in some way or another - killed themselves. Because this all happened within such a short time frame, people started sitting up and taking notice. At long last - considering that gay teenage suicide happens every single day in every single country all around the world.
Dan Savage - an American journalist, writer, and sex advice columnist was deeply moved and affected by these tragic events. He decided that there must be a way to reach young gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual kids and tell them that life would get better, and that it was not worth giving into the bullying, hate and evil that was pushing them to kill themselves.
Dan created a YouTube video with his partner Terry, and simply spoke from the heart. He and Terry told their stories, of growing up, being bullied, harassed and discriminated against because of their sexuality, and how it made them feel. They also spoke about how their lives changed when they left school and how so much better life got once they graduated and started their adult lives.
Their original YouTube video can be viewed here:
Millions of people around the world saw this video and were moved by their honesty, and the truth behind their message. Gay and straight people who had overcome bullying and hatred went on to post videos of their own, and the It Gets Better YouTube channel and campaign was born.
Messages of hope, love and support started to reach troubled youngsters who needed it most.
I can describe this campaign in great detail, but I think its best if you visited the site yourself and had a look.
This story, and campaign really hit home for me. It moved me beyond words, and in many cases after watching countless videos, reduced me to tears. I cried because of various reasons. I was once a troubled gay teenager who was bullied, harassed and picked on because I was gay. High School was tough, and my final year of school was a nightmare. I was picked on daily, called a fag or 'moffie' - a South African derogatory term for gay on a daily, almost hourly basis.
I was still very unsure of who I was and confused how so many people knew I was gay even before I was 100% sure myself. The hatred they spewed at me left me in a very dark, and lonely place. And I began to contemplate suicide. It started to become a daily thought, and I thought about a variety of ways to do it. Sleeping pills, slitting my wrists, even going to far as to stab myself. All because of the hatred and ignorance of people around me, making me feel like I was worthless for being who I was.
Thankfully - I'm still here and my life changed pretty dramatically - which I will blog about more in depth at a later stage. That post deserves alot of time and effort.
This post however is about a campaign that motivates and inspires me greatly. So much so that I wanted to share some more information about it.
I'm very proud to be gay and if you know me, you'll hopefully agree that I'm pretty much in your face about it. So much so that its pretty much a fuck you kinda attitude. Of course I still have ways to go - life is never easy, especially with family etc. But I am proud of who I see in the mirror's reflection each day.
What inspires you? I think we need to focus more on inspiration in our daily lives. God knows its easier to moan and complain and be a victim. - and don't say you don't do it. Because I'll call you a god damn liar.
I struggle with my ambition to be positive and motivated at all times. But something as beautiful and simple as the It Gets Better campaign, and book, which I am now reading - loving it, can inspire me and make me feel so so happy.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on inspiration and how you try make the world a better place.
To any young troubled teenagers who may stumble on this blog and may have read this post.
As a young, successful, happy and married gay man - I can promise you that it does Get Better! And that you can and will be Pretty Damn Fabulous!
For more information - go to http://www.itgetsbetter.org/