23 March 2011

Dan Savage Live: It Gets Better

In person, Dan Savage is a “weepy bag of slop” (his words), which you’d never know from reading Savage Love.

At a reading last night for It Gets Better (the newly published book based on the videos uploaded by folks around the world), he and I teared up at all the same moments, so that makes two of us.

His inspiration for It Gets Better was an aha-moment he had last fall in the midst of the cluster of teen suicides due to gay bullying. He wanted to be able to talk to these kids, to tell them that great joy was awaiting them as adults if they could just hang on. He was lamenting that he’d never be invited to speak at the high schools and middle schools where this message was needed, when he realized that he no longer needed permission: he could upload his message and send it out into the world. But he didn’t want to do it without Terry Miller, his “husband-in-Canada-boyfriend-in-America” because so much of his own joy comes from this relationship. Terry, a very private individual, said yes and so It Gets Better was born with their inaugural video.

Their hope was to get 100 videos. As Dan said, it seemed like a nice round number, and it was enough to not be embarrassed. They got 100 videos in 2 days. 650 videos in 4 days maxed out the YouTube channel. Right now, there are 10,000 videos and counting.

Last night, Dan graciously brought people from the audience to read their own words, and it was very moving.

Some other notable moments from the evening:

A shout-out to David Cameron, Prime Minister of Great Britain, and leader of the conservative Tory Party, who made an It Gets Better video. Dan noted that not a single US Republican (save for one state senator) stood up to ask teens not to kill themselves.

It Gets Better is all over the world--Australia, Great Britain, Latin America.

Dan attended the National Conference on Bullying at the White House and while 30-50% of all bullying is LGBT-related, only 5 of the 67 programs put in place acknowledge gay bullying at all. At least it's being addressed officially, but .07% of the programs are addressing up to 50% of the problem.

More to come as I delve into the book! In the meantime, check out the It Gets Better video I made with Mia.

-Maura McGurk

Maura is a painter whose work deals with issues related to gay rights, especially gay bullying. To see her paintings, check out her website.

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