Columnist and writer Dan Savage launched a new channel on Youtube.com, titled the It Gets Better Project. He was touched by news of the recent suicides of Minnesota teenager Justin Aaberg, and Indiana teenager William (Billy) Lucas.
“I had the reaction I always have when I hear about teenage suicides,” said Savage from his home in Seattle. “I wish I had five minutes to talk to these kids. I realized we don’t have to wait for an invite to talk to these kids who might be in despair.”
With all of the electronic media out there today, blogs, social networks and other sites Savage decided that he would speak to kids that might be bullied to the point of considering suicide. The video of Savage and his partner Terry recounting their experiences of bullying is very touching. Over 225,000 people have watched their video.
“Gay kids that get bullied can’t envision a future for themselves. We should show them the future they could have. We need to give them a glimpse of what their life could become if they hang in there.”
Savage has not worked directly with gay youth before, but has given them advice through his column, “Savage Love.”
“I give sex advice to gay teenagers all the time.” Savage added that youth as young as 15 have requested his advice. “So, I hear about teenage issues all the time, both gay and straight.”
As father to a pre-teen son Savage, who came out when the AIDS epidemic was “slamming the gay community” in the early 80s, did not think he would live to see himself happy, partnered, giving his parents grandchildren, or himself the joy of being a father.
His partner Terry gave very strong testimonial in the video, especially after recounting a story of being on a snowy mountaintop with his partner and son.
“Those moments make it so worth sticking out the bullying and the pain and the despair of high school. And if you can just do that, you have moments like that and so many more, ahead of you.” Terry went on to say later in the video, “Living well is the best revenge.”
There were some negative comments on the website. Saying that the leaders of and mentors in the gay community should not be telling youth to “laugh it out.”
SFGN asked Savage what he thought of the negative reaction.
“I don’t know what to say to the negative nellies out there, other than there will always be a group of gays that will disagree with how to mentor gay youth,” he said of the more than 100 videos that have been posted to the youtube channel. “I have already heard from a lot of young gay kids that watching these videos has helped them.”
Savage added that groups like the Trevor Project are indeed more direct than youtube.com and therefore an important part of outreach and needs financing.
For more information please visit, Youtube.com/itgetsbetterproject