When I first saw Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" video, I found it moving and inspiring. By the time the video ended, I had a few tears in my eyes.
As I talked about the video with my Activism and Social Media class, one student highlighted how much criticism Dan Savage, the video and the It Gets Better Project received. She asked us to consider the possibility that it might not get better for some LGBTQ youth and questioned why Savage didn’t focus on how youth, parents, schools and communities can make it better.
After class, I made a point to read posts by those who took issue with the video and project. Those posts opened my eyes to how the video wasn't as inclusive as it could have been with respect to race, gender and class.
My Sexuality and Social Media student, Samantha, explored Savage’s video and the subsequent backlash in her project. After citing the numerous problems that the blogger, Femmephane, had with the video as a response to bullying, Samantha shares her own views:
I do strongly feel as though Savage and Miller are not trying to trick anyone. I think they truly want other LGBTQ youth to be able to relate to how they used to feel, and know that life will eventually get better when they are older and more people understand what they are going through. Obviously not everyone is going to have an amazing youth and breeze through life, but life is hard for every single person. Whether you are fighting an illness, breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, mourning over the loss of a family member, or trying to overcome poverty, life is always going to be difficult in some aspect, no matter what situation you are in. Some individuals might not agree with this message, but it is coming from multiple people including celebrities that know how it feels to be bullied or harassed. Any supportive message is helpful to a person struggling, and anyone that can relate to bullying or harassment should feel empowered to share their story in hopes of inspiring others.
Samantha’s project examines the ability for online spaces, such as Facebook and blogging, to provide a strong support system for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals who want to be more open about their sexuality. More of Samantha's findings are available here.
What are your thoughts on the It Gets Better video?