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  1. The author creates an unnecessary either-or scenario. Who is she to say that the people creating these videos aren’t out there working for all the things she laments? What is SHE doing besides criticizing people who are trying to help?

    Comment by Pomo — October 8, 2010 @ 1:17 am - October 8, 2010

  2. I feel like I’ve blogged about this to death, so I will try to be brief. Dan Savage’s video project is awful. It focuses young people’s whole conception of their life possibilities on their sexual orientation. Kids need to find support from their families, neighbors, and communities, period.

    If that means they don’t identify as gay in their teens, who cares? They have their whole lives to do that. I can’t accept Savage’s goals because I know that his ulterior motive is to coax kids out of the closet, and he has specifically stated that he’s doing this video to get between kids and their “homophobic parents” who Savage says want to stop their kids from coming out.

    Using the term “queer” or “gay” is irrelevant in my mind. I teach college students and they use “gay” as an insult much more often, actually. In fact tonight one of my Marxist colleagues over drinks said that someone was acting really gay, then turned to me and said, “I’m sorry, I forgot you came out.” I told him, “I’m queer, not gay.” Queer is a good title — for adults.

    For kids, both terms are problematic. Gayness or queerness should be something you commit to after a lot of thought, and when you’ve built a solid life for yourself to sustain a future relationship — a career, a solid rhythm, a community. You can’t take all that on when you haven’t even finished high school.

    If my kid is living under my roof and I think he needs to take a few more years to see if this gay phase is real or just something that will pass, then yes, I am going to tell my son to wait and not announce to the world that he’s gay. Dan Savage shouldn’t be interfering with that over the Internet.

    “It gets better” is also an arrogant presumption that Dan Savage’s life story — or the life story of whoever contributes to this video project — is transferible to a young person of today. Kids know when someone is talking out of their ear. And anyone who thinks they can speak to a teen they don’t know over the Internet, and assume you know what the kid is going through, and assume the authority to assure the kid that coming out of the closet is okay as a teen, and you know his life will be fine — is talking out of their ear. The kid can smell that. Chances are your life was nothing like the 12-year-old today dealing with crap at school.

    What a teen will get by watching the Savage video is more of the same message that he is locked into a gay identity and the only people who can predict his future are people who are also gay. It feeds the sick prisoner mentality of pro-gay rhetoric, a mentality that assumes that if you lock people into your community label by constantly saying they don’t have a choice about their identity, that your numbers will go up and somehow your movement will gain critical mass. It means sacrificing individual choice about one’s own life for some illusory group utopianism. To an adult it makes sense — which is why Savage has had no problem outing people — but to a kid it just feels like another adult voice forcing something on him that he doesn’t feel comfortable with.

    Kids don’t kill themselves because they’re being bullied. Kids kill themselves because they feel trapped and don’t see a way out. I should know — I knew plenty of young suicides in the US Army. If you keep focusing on whether or not the kid is gay, and submerge the kid in the “you can’t choose” rhetoric of the gay movement, then you are making the kid feel trapped, trapped, trapped. Period.

    Rather than jump eagerly into Dan Savage’s footsteps, the kid is going to check out.

    The better thing is for the kid to find a workable relationship with his parents, which might mean patiently going along with parents’ desire for him to not come out or at least consider possibilities other than a gay identity.

    Also, the most recent studies show antigay violence decreasing among teens. Harrassment has remained the same since 2003, but remember that harrassment includes both bullying from homophobes and other gay people trying to out someone they think is gay. Simply talking to kids about who’s gay, even more, isn’t necessary and will likely increase harrassment when it has been flatlining.

    What does it profit a man to gain a gay identity and lose his family? (and his life?)

    Gosh, I wasn’t brief. Sorry. But I feel strongly about this. Here’s my latest reflection on the queer thing (and God):

    Comment by Coco — October 8, 2010 @ 3:46 am - October 8, 2010

  3. 1. I’ve noticed several news stories the past week or two that suicides in GENERAL are way up…kinda bugs me that people are identity-politicking what is a general trend.

    2. Dan Savage APPROVES of outing anyone who disagrees with his political agenda so I still fail to see where the hell he gets off trying to play the sympathetic. He is one of the vicious, hate-filled bullies who drives people to suicide, not one of the good guys.

    I think any discussion of his project should include that disclaimer front and center.

    Comment by American Elephant — October 8, 2010 @ 5:00 am - October 8, 2010

  4. Having watched a number of these videos I can say that you guys are way off track. This project is beyond Dan Savage and any of his peccadilloes and encompasses more than a pat “it gets better. QED”. There a people from all walks of life posting videos and offering advice on how to endure any tough times these kids are going through with examples from their own experiences, links to Trevor Project and other groups for help, just plain encouragement which some of these kids may need to hear, etc. Some of the videos are really good, some mediocre and others just plain suck. Such is what one would expect when the public-at-large is involved in a project like this. I appreciate what Savage has started and would have found this to be helpful when I was younger, of course the Internet itself would have been great as well to know I wasn’t the only gay person, even if Savage himself isn’t my example of a sterling role model. Instead of just criticizing the effort, why not offer one of your own? There are bound to be young gay conservatives out there who are struggling not only with dealing with their sexuality but the knowledge that they do not fit in with the stereotypical model of gays either in their beliefs or behavior. Gays who are religious should also offer their own videos too, I’ve only seen one so far. This is a good project that yes, by itself is meaningless but does play an important part in helping.

    Comment by John — October 8, 2010 @ 7:50 am - October 8, 2010

  5. Big No…………….this will lead them far away from the the actual gay relationship.

    Comment by Online Gay Dating UK — October 8, 2010 @ 8:08 am - October 8, 2010

  6. It Gets Better is not a perfect project and yes you may not agree with Dan Savage. . . but having posted this wonderful IGB video

    on my FB page, I have gotten three apologies from folk from my yout’ years. One of the men apologizing is now supporting his teenage daughter after he overheard co-workers talking about the ‘dyke’, his daughter the star athlete.

    The IGB project is not only helping teens look at life a little differently, so are teachers, counselors, clergy, family and even parents. Having some experience with PFLAG, and weekly speaking events at a local GLBT youth center, my name is often passed around as a resource. Although I have relocated, I have received 6 messages from folk in that community and have had 4 follow up conversations with folk seeking support for their teen over the last 5 days.

    And Coco, miss hands on hips, I would like to suggest that you might want to spend some time with the gay yout’. You might be surprised!
    Not all gay yout’ are giving up their family as they come out of the closet.

    Comment by rusty — October 8, 2010 @ 8:21 am - October 8, 2010

  7. This is not a IGB video,

    Comment by rusty — October 8, 2010 @ 9:12 am - October 8, 2010

  8. Two comments on this.

    1. Yes, the videos need to do more. Doyle is right about that. More people who are making and posting them need to include messages about how and where to get help – such as identifying in their videos the numbers for suicide hotlines, or local or national agencies that can help people. This is actually something that Dan Savage’s video did, that not many others have (he and his partner’s video included a screen at the end with the number to the Trevor Project).

    2. I think some people really miss the point. The message of the videos (and the project overall) isn’t about making things better now for teens, because (as someone above pointed out) bullying and teen culture isn’t going to change. The point of the project is that bullying in that form – the kind of bullying that is driving kids to kill themselves – ends when you’re out of school. Yes, adult life is full of bullies in different forms, but when we are adults we have the power to change that by changing our jobs, locations, home situation, whatever. Power that kids don’t have, regardless of their orientation.

    The point of the messages is to help kids see the longer view of life and realize that yes, it does get better, but they have to be here for it. The project aims to help kids see beyond the immediate and realize there is an end to high school. Something a lot of kids need. And yes, circling back to #1, it should include more references to resources that can help kids.

    The project isn’t perfect, but it’s a great way to reach out and maybe give a bunch of kids some hope.

    Comment by Neptune — October 8, 2010 @ 9:40 am - October 8, 2010

  9. I’m echoing John on this. AE, Coco, and I’m-sure-will-soon-chime-in ND30, if you think this project is terrible, get off your collective fat tushes and make videos of your own. If you aren’t part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

    Comment by Jim Michaud — October 8, 2010 @ 10:01 am - October 8, 2010

  10. at least consider possibilities other than a gay identity.

    Maybe there’s a camp that can help them with that. Or exorcism, perhaps.

    Comment by jpe — October 8, 2010 @ 10:09 am - October 8, 2010

  11. I had heard about Savage’s efforts, but as one of those few people who don’t flip to his column first thing each Thursday, I hadn’t watched any of the videos until a day or so ago when I caught Tim Gunn’s marvelous contribution.

    I’m not informed enough to be able to offer a credible opinion about the IGB project, but for what it’s worth, I think it definitely has considerable intrinsic value.

    Comment by Eric in Chicago — October 8, 2010 @ 10:16 am - October 8, 2010

  12. Well-meaning, perhaps, but definitely misquided. First of all, teenagers don’t think long-term, and they don’t generally respond well to reasoned arguments. A teenager doesn’t commit suicide because he rationally chooses it as the best option, he does it impulsively. Almighty Science tells us that the adolescent brain is hyperemotive and not geared toward making rational judgments. A teen is more likely to kill himself because of one really bad day than because of a long-term assessment of his life options.

    Secondly, a person who offs himself is probably someone who has more serious mental issues than just not dealing well with their sexual orientation.

    All the happy talk YouTube videos in the world can’t help someone who acts impulsively and/or is deeply miswired to begin with, but I guess it will make people feel like they’re doing something to help.

    (I know I am always cynical, but I am seldom disappointed.)

    Comment by V the K — October 8, 2010 @ 10:53 am - October 8, 2010

  13. Yes and no, V the K. There is enough evidence I’ve seen that shows such efforts do help some kids considering suicide, though obviously not all. To make such an absolutist statement as you do here is incorrect, regardless of whether sexuality is involved or not. Again, IGB isn’t a panacea to prevent suicides among gay teens nor will it be effective for every kid and every situation. There is nothing that we know of which can do that. It is but one more tool among many that will prove to be helpful for some and not for others.

    Comment by John — October 8, 2010 @ 12:04 pm - October 8, 2010

  14. Please note, the title of this post is a question. I’m not sure if the video helps or not. On the surface, it does seem to be a good thing; my main point is that troubled teens, more than anything, need personal contact, even supportive peers or compassionate mentors.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — October 8, 2010 @ 12:22 pm - October 8, 2010

  15. AE, Coco, and I’m-sure-will-soon-chime-in ND30, if you think this project is terrible, get off your collective fat tushes and make videos of your own.

    Sorry. I have no interest in encouraging children and teenagers to be sexually promiscuous like Dan Savage does.

    My advice to children and teens is always the same; no matter what you may think, people do care about you. The question is whether you care enough about yourself to believe it — and whether you have the strength to realize that your value comes, not from what other people place on you, but what you think it is.

    It’s good advice. It inoculates you against people like Dan Savage whose only interest in you is as a sexual toy and who will gladly encourage you to kill yourself if you’re religious or disagree with them politically.

    Meanwhile, gay teens who are religious should realize that Dan Savage and the gay and lesbian community mock and attack their religious beliefs constantly and call them delusional, and gay teens who are conservative should realize that Dan Savage and his ilk are screaming for people to, quote, “make them bleed” and are posting their families’ names and home addresses to harass them.

    It amuses me to no end that the gay and lesbian community shrieks about bullying teenagers as it indulges in and practices exactly the same. It shows the total lack of self-awareness and utter hypocrisy that motivates bigots like Dan Savage.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — October 8, 2010 @ 1:19 pm - October 8, 2010

  16. It seems, however, than in the wake of these suicides that the focus has been on the perpetrators, on the bullying, rather than on the questioning and often isolated young people. If we helped them find the inner strength, the confidence to deal with their difference, then perhaps they would be better able to stand up to their tormentors and for themselves. BDB

    Working with youth and supporting programs like Safe Schools Coalition in Washington. . .effective outreach and support started with the premise that there will always be bullies. Bullies are seeking to gain some sense of power, power they seem to have lost – often times by other bullies including family. Bullies can recognize or target those who might appear weak or present a weakness to be exploited.

    The practical approach, like Dan purposed, is to raise awareness in those who can become supportive- peers, teachers, parents, etc and to make themselves ‘visible’ to those being targeted. There is a fine line in reaching out to someone who doesn’t know whether they want to talk about being bullied. If young people can reach out to people who are safe and will be supportive and empathetic, that will help.

    The IGB campaign, although directed to youth can and has helped those looking to support youth who are targeted by bullies. Peer support and adult support can also be increased through this and other projects that raise awareness.

    Comment by rusty — October 8, 2010 @ 1:47 pm - October 8, 2010

  17. Sorry. I have no interest in encouraging children and teenagers to be sexually promiscuous like Dan Savage does.

    Although as a regular Savage Love reader I may disagree with you, I do get your point; I just think it’s not related to the IGB project. The video project really has nothing to do with promiscuity. I would encourage you to look beyond the usual of someone you don’t like and see the good in the idea. (For the record, I don’t disagree with your characterizations of his views on outing and religious conservatives.)

    My advice to children and teens is always the same; no matter what you may think, people do care about you. The question is whether you care enough about yourself to believe it — and whether you have the strength to realize that your value comes, not from what other people place on you, but what you think it is.

    Personally I think that is great advice. The kind of advice the IGB project is intended to share. The kind of advice that kids lose sight of when they’re being bullied every day at school for being different. Not even for being gay. I think the IGB videos are a tool for communicating that and the resources available to help kids with it.

    Comment by Neptune — October 8, 2010 @ 2:26 pm - October 8, 2010

  18. It seems, however, than in the wake of these suicides that the focus has been on the perpetrators, on the bullying, rather than on the questioning and often isolated young people.

    Well, duh; the whole point of the screaming fit of the gay-sex left is to leverage these suicides to attack religious people. That much is obvious from the screaming bigot Dan Savage, who claims that all Christians want gay and lesbian people to kill themselves.

    I mean, these are the people who are openly publishing the names and addresses of gay and lesbian people who disagree with them and encouraging others to “make them bleed”. It’s pretty clear that they’re not opposed to bullying, harassment, or telling people to commit suicide.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — October 8, 2010 @ 3:51 pm - October 8, 2010

  19. And here’s the latest kick from the brain-dead left: they’re insisting that putting up signs advertising a Sarah Palin rally constitutes a hate crime.

    And not surprising, what else are they doing?

    Nope bring cameras. Bible spice may have her fans but those fans have to live on the same planet as the rest of us, and how many of them would be spewing in her glory once it known that their sycophancy would be blasted in the ‘Net?

    So again, Dan Savage and his little group of hatemongers are trying to post pictures, names, and addresses to try to get people harassed for the “hate crime” of filling up their cars at a gas station with a Sarah Palin sign.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — October 8, 2010 @ 4:04 pm - October 8, 2010

  20. Ummm, what does that last link to JoeMyGod have to do with Dan Savage?

    Comment by Neptune — October 8, 2010 @ 4:08 pm - October 8, 2010

  21. [...] Can a (web) video make it better for gay teens? [...]

    Pingback by GayPatriot » A Note on the “It Gets Better” Vidoe — October 8, 2010 @ 4:35 pm - October 8, 2010

  22. Since the Clementi tragedy there has been much written here and else where about bullying and how can a teenager cope with it. When Martin Luther King was killed, there was a big riot at the junior high that my daughter, Joan was attending. She was drug around over the gym floor with a rope tied around her. The next day we took her down to the Jewish Community Center and enrolled her in TAE KWON DO.

    After a judge ordered busing to break up segregated schools, the students were bused out of their neighborhood to schools away from their friends. There were many fights and kids were getting beaten up

    Joan did not go any further than getting a red belt. But in the meantime a girl told her that after school she was going to beat her up. Joan said, “Lets not wait until after school. We will go out side RIGHT NOW”. After school the girl was no where to be seen. But if Joan had not the training in martial arts and comfidence in herself which it teaches, she would have come home all beaten up.

    The best advice that I can give parents, if you are worried about your son or daughter being bullied, enroll them in some form of martial arts.

    Comment by John W — October 8, 2010 @ 7:06 pm - October 8, 2010

  23. I’d just like to point out that this violence against the gay community may not be a exclusive problem. Anti-gay violence is only a symptom of a much larger problem in society, and it seems to be growing.

    All types of different people are bashed on a daily basis anymore, so when considering a solution for ‘Gays’, consider that the problem may not be with gays. I happen to think that society itself is changing ……. for the worse.

    As a culture, we are losing respect for each others ‘personal sovereignty’. People aren’t ‘allowed to be gay’ because their community endorses & supports that behavior. Their right to personal freedom isn’t granted by government. People, even ones i disagree with, have the right to ‘self-determination’ by virtue of their existence. They have a right to be gay, simply because they choose to be.

    The same thing applies to anyone who endures physical harassment from disapproving peers. The rising suicide rate actually surges much higher when you include the numbers of everyone who are perceived to be different.

    Any practical solution for this crisis should be targeted at the root cause of the problem, and not just at one symptom.

    Comment by gastorgrab — October 8, 2010 @ 11:08 pm - October 8, 2010

  24. I’ve not seen this video, so feel free to ignore this if I’m totally off base. . .

    Basically, I hate people who say “We can’t tell people to have a positive attitude, because it might not happen.

    What creates wealth? What creates social capital, community capital, and our standard of living?

    Humans! Humans create prosperity! Telling someone things get better is valid *because all humans can create value and raise living standards*, even if very slowly.

    What happens when you get with friends and study together? You’re standard of living goes up. What if you help your friends clean up their yards, or they help you? Your standard of living goes up.

    In other words, you create wealth.

    Opportunity always comes along. *But it needs a positive attitude to see it.* Safe social networks, economic opportunity–these all require positive attitudes, otherwise you will simply kill yourself (especially since, *in a negative light it might be perfectly logical to commit suicide*).

    Comment by joeedh — October 9, 2010 @ 2:18 am - October 9, 2010

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