After a number of recent gay teen suicides, the “It Gets Better” video campaign was developed in hopes of reaching out to gay/bisexual/transgendered teens feeling isolated and depressed. In only a month, the campaign has amassed thousands of videos speaking out against gay-bashing and encouraged teens to reach out for help instead of self-harming or committing suicide.
There is no doubt that the campaign is trying to help teens, but does ‘It gets better’ promote the tolerance of bullies and homophobes at the same time? Those who believe themselves to be taking a more honest approach have made “it doesn’t get better” videos which have received much backlash, event though they are honest, non-homophobic, free of ridicule and often made by someone gay or transgendered.
One gay man living in Maine speaks out: “It may not get appreciably worse, but it does not get better… If anything, you stop being bullied individually and start feeling bullied as a group,” he states. He talks about the laws that prohibit homosexuals from marrying, the anti-gay military rules and the slew of homophobes currently running for and sitting in political offices across the country:
Another, younger (presumably gay) male agrees and expands on the idea that the future is not a particularly bright place:
“The ‘it gets better’ discourse is founded on a bunch of lies.
The first lie is that after high school, you’ll be able to avoid those bullies. That’s just not true. You’re still going to have bullies in your life. You’re still going to have people that are throwing insults at you from their car windows as they drive by, people who will give you some funny look to let you know that you’re not welcome there, and people who will try to commit some act of violence against you. The point is, there are still going to be bullies.
The second lie is that people say ‘oh just wait until college. College is going to be great’. Not all colleges have queer organizations. Some colleges will prevent queer organizations from forming, like Lindenwood University and suburban St. Louis did. Some colleges, namely private religious ones, may teach homophobia as part of the curriculum.
If we say we believe it gets better, we’re also believing that nothing really needs to be done right now. All you have to do is wait it out. So, the behavior of the bullies can go unquestioned. The behavior of the school administrators who don’t do anything about it can go unquestioned. We don’t have to think about those issues. Just wait it out; the solution lies in the future, not in the present.
The other thing about this is that it’s going to go away like the last election, like the last oil spill, like the last terrorist attack, it’s gonna go away like Chandra Levy, like Terry Schiavo — remember them? No. They went away. It’ll go away just like any other hubbub that’s perpetuated in the mass media. It’s gonna go away as people passively sit in front of their televisions and as something new comes along to occupy our minds whether it’s shark attacks or bridges falling or some kid being kidnapped or whatever. We’ll forget about it, we won’t talk about it anymore, having done nothing about it.
So I’m saying we shouldn’t be talking about this ‘it gets better’ because it’s a lie. Well what should we be talking about?
One, we could be talking about how there’s a lack of trained sensitive social workers in schools who have real authority. We can talk about how that job is devalued.
We can talk about deconstructing the meanings that we associate with sexuality and gender and religion. Take a step back and realize how we make all this stuff up. We make up what it means to be a girl, what it means to be a boy, we make up sexuality and ideas about them, we make up religion and the implications that come along with it.
We should be talking about the only thing that’s helpful really: the opportunity to have a unique perception on the world. If you’re disenfranchised from society […] then you’re able to step back and view the game from outside. You’re able to see the deep structure that organizes. With this, there’s good and there’s bad. You’re disenfranchised, thats the bad. The good is that you have this unique perspective. You can take a step back and say ‘I don’t have to be spoonfed everything I want to believe. I don’t have to uncritically accept everything I’ve been told. I don’t have to just follow the rules. I’m operating outside of the rules, and because of that I can challenge other taken-for-granted assumptions that are going on in my life.’
We should talk about critically examining our conversations and the problems that we talk about and the causes and solutions to those problems. Not just repeating whatever it is other people have said.”
Not surprisingly, his video has been met with a barrage of insults such as ‘dumb shit’, ‘you’re sick’, ‘douchebag’ and ‘homophobe’. It is amazing how people who support the idea of equal rights for all are so vehemently against a dissenting opinion which is clearly not meant to bully or put down members of the LGBT community.
Most teens smart enough to figure out that while these messages might not be all smiles and catch phrases, they’re honest and do encourage education and change. To think that some truly believe that opinions such as these should be kept hidden in a dark place, never to be heard again, is disappointing.
This guy does a great job communicating the point that something needs to be done now, not in the future.
Although there is no defense (nor should there be) for anti-gay viewpoints, people have the right to retain homophobic outlooks if they wish to do so. The bigger problem is with the law, our assertion of gender roles as a society, and what we teach our children to enforce those gender roles and breed homophobia through legislation and other such things. They will never cease to exist, but homophobes should be the minority.
“We are fixated on the tragedy instead of saying ‘we should do something to prevent these gay youths from getting to the point where they need a campaign to prevent them from killing themselves’”
Drew is the moron who runs suberize.com.