Savage: ‘It will get better’
Columnist lends support to LGBT community
Published: Thursday, April 26, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 21:04
The Ira Allen Chapel filled with members of the Burlington community eager to see columnist and author Dan Savage speak about the “It Gets Better Project” April 19.
The “It Gets Better Project” began in September of 2010 when Savage and his partner, Terry Miller, made a 15 minute video in their living room explaining the emotional and social distress they faced from “coming out.”
Savage said they made a video to ignite hope in young people who have faced bullying or harassment because of their sexuality.
Savage explained that one of the larger issues “It Gets Better” tries to combat is a lack of understanding of homosexuality among families, and the fact that sexuality is avoided in conversation.
“Kids grow up feeling like they are the only gay person in the world,” Savage said.
Less than five days after Savage and Miller uploaded their video to YouTube, more than 600 videos were added to their channel by people also explaining their experiences with “coming out.”
“Hundreds of kids said the ‘It Gets Better’ videos gave them hope and support, as well as the ability to reach out,” Savage said.
Now that more than 30,000 videos have been made by adults and teenagers telling their stories, Savage believes that the necessary steps are being made to end bullying and harassment. However, there is still more to be done.
“We are going to have to change culture,” Savage said. “‘It Gets Better’ can end bullying.”
He gave examples of students who faced harassment from their peers on a daily basis and could not escape being outcasts in their own houses, as their parents offered no support or understanding.
Savage told stories of kids who have “come out” to their parents and had their home and college funds taken away unless they agreed to see “conversion therapists.”
“One day [parents] will apologize to [their] children for how they treated them,” he said.
By creating this project that tells these stories, Savage explained that he is giving a voice to everyone in the LGBT community.
First-year student Rebecca Dallas described Savage as inspiring, uplifting and optimistic.
“I think this [program] is already affecting UVM,” she said. “Things are very open here and when a person walks around campus they never hear people use the word ‘gay’ in a negative connotation.”
“We are breaking the barrier of silence and ignorance,” Dallas said. “This is the biggest step that could have been taken.”
Graduate Emily Ryan described the power that the Internet can have, as has been seen with “It Gets Better.”
“It’s really nice to have something to send kids to, especially since they are so tech-savvy these days,” Ryan said.
Savage concluded his speech explaining that support is the best tool that a person can have.
“There are fucking thousands of [homosexuals] and there is nothing anyone can do about it,” he said.