This is a video of heterosexual actor James Franco making out with his reflection, as published to the internet by the New York Times, so you know it has cultural relevancy. (Though I think Vincent Cassel's is more … reflective.)
Once again the Westboro Baptist Church's threats of a protest — over Buffalo Grove High School student production of The Laramie Project — end with a no-show by the Kansas-based circus, leaving these Chicago-area high schoolers waving signs around for nobody but reporters' cameras.
The Openarms Youth Project featured in the New York Times and located in Tulsa, Oklahoma had a “It Gets Better” rally to show support for the area’s LGBT youth in response to the epidemic of teen suicides in response to being bullied for their actual or perceived sexual orientation.
I personally attended the event and the stories that were shared and program was incredibly moving. A friend of mine, Professor Laura Belmont, was interrupted by a group who loudly drove their truck parallel to the rally and screamed unintelligible gibberish while she tried to speak. I heard something to the effect of “Lesbians… blah! blah! blah!” Laura responded gracefully and humorously, and continued on but it was a fine example of why those teens need our support. The teen years are hard enough without being isolated as some kind of pariah, and even assaulted, for your actual or perceived sexual orientation.
Please read the comments at the end of the article as another example of just how necessary it is to work for changing the climate of hate, willful ignorance and intolerance that exists here at ground zero that is ripe for needed change.
On Sept. 23 writer Dan Savage formally launched the "It Gets Better Project," a video series aimed at reaching LGBT kids to let 'em know school bullying will eventually end, and they'll have greener pastures to look forward to. Yesterday the Gay-Straight Alliance Network formally launched the "Make It Better Project," which, according to a release, will "give youth the tools they need to fight back against anti-LGBT bullying and make schools safer for LGBT youth" and "includes a website and YouTube channel where students and adults can upload video messages to share what they are doing to prevent suicide and make it better for LGBT youth in schools now." So that won't be confusing at all.
By Ian Thompson, ACLU Washington Legislative Office, and Chris Hampton, ACLU LGBT Project
September was a hard month for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, especially for some of its youngest and most vulnerable members.
Earlier this month, 15-year-old Billy Lucas of Greensburg, Indiana, was found by his mother in the family’s barn after he had taken his own life. Late last week, Asher Brown, also 13, of Houston, Texas, died after shooting himself. On Tuesday, 13-year-old Seth Walsh of Tehachapi, California, passed away after spending nine days on life support after he hanged himself from a tree in his backyard. On Wednesday, the body of 18-year-old Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi was pulled from the Hudson River in New York, days after he was allegedly humiliated and outed to other students by his roommate. And just this morning we learned that on the same day, 19-year-old college student Raymond Chase hanged himself in his dorm room in Rhode Island.
Each of these preventable tragedies speaks to the need for our schools to do a much better job at protecting students who are (or are thought to be) LGBT from harassment and abuse, and teaching all students to treat each other with respect and dignity. But in addition to that, youth like Seth, Asher, Billy, Tyler, and Raymond need to know that they are not alone. They need to know that they will be okay and that people will love them for who they are.
Last week Seattle writer, sex advice columnist, and activist Dan Savage announced he’d started a YouTube channel called the It Gets Better Project to reach out to young people like Seth, Asher, and Billy. The idea is simple: Videos featuring LGBT adults sharing their personal experiences talk directly to LGBT youth to show them that life usually improves immensely for LGBT people as they get older. The message to these young people is also simple: "It gets better."
A few of us at the ACLU were emailing each other late last week, talking about whether to write a blog post about this project, when someone said, "Hey, why don’t we make a video?" After all, many of us here at the ACLU are members of the LGBT community and were bullied and harassed when we were in school too.
We put the word out at our national headquarters, and people from all over the ACLU stepped up immediately to be filmed, including folks from our fundraising, human resources, and database departments. And our executive director, Anthony Romero, took time to participate too. ACLU staff at our Washington Legislative Office started working on a video as well. Over the past few days, as we’ve been shooting our videos, the It Gets Better Project has exploded, with dozens of videos being created and group filming shoots being set up in cities nationwide.
Harvey Milk famously said, "You’ve gotta give ’em hope." We certainly believe that’s true.
For more information about the ACLU’s work on behalf of LGBT youth, click here. And if you’re a young person considering suicide, please contact The Trevor Project.
Former Real World: Brooklyn castmember and current fitness guru
and gay rights advocate Scott Herman filmed a YouTube public service
announcement that supports The Trevor Project, which works to stop
suicide among gay youth through a 24-hour hotline. Advocate.com: Daily News
That's the message Dan Savage wants to send to LGBT and questioning youth in America who are being bullied, with the launch of a YouTube channel to which he hopes people will contribute.
I’ve launched a channel on YouTube—www.youtube.com/itgetsbetterproject—to host these videos. My normally camera-shy husband and I already posted one. We both went to Christian schools and we were both bullied—he had it a lot worse than I did—and we are living proof that it gets better. We don’t dwell too much on the past. Instead, we talk mostly about all the meaningful things in our lives now—our families, our friends (gay and straight), the places we’ve gone and things we’ve experienced—that we would’ve missed out on if we’d killed ourselves then.
“You gotta give ’em hope,” Harvey Milk said.
Today we have the power to give these kids hope. We have the tools to reach out to them and tell our stories and let them know that it gets better. Online support groups are great, GLSEN does amazing work, the Trevor Project is invaluable. But many LGBT youth can’t picture what their lives might be like as openly gay adults. They can’t imagine a future for themselves. So let’s show them what our lives are like, let’s show them what the future may hold in store for them.
As proclaimed by Gov. David Paterson in recognition of National Suicide Prevention Week.
Suicide is one of the top three causes of death among young people (15 to 24-year-olds). Only accidents and homicides occur more frequently as causes of death among young people. LGBTQ youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. LGBTQ youth who come from a rejecting family are up to nine times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. With your help, The Trevor Project can continue Saving Young Lives.