Friday, October 22, 2010

Perhaps The Most Successful Gay-Positive Message Project Ever

Terry Miller and Dan Savage

I remember back in my retail days, employees getting together in the break room at Border's, World Trade Center and reading Dan Savage's weekly column, Savage Love, aloud. We would howl with laughter. We wondered who the hell would seriously write this guy for sex advice, but a lot of people did. We loved his in-your-face-and-spitting approach to the religious right and social conservatives, calling them out on all of their abundant hypocrisies. I like his less-than-reverential attitude toward what he calls "the gay establishment," the HRC cocktail parties at The Pines in summer circuit.

Now, he's suddenly taken on a whole different role as a gay activist. Together with his husband Terry Miller, he supposedly came up with the idea during an anguished conversation over the recent spate of highly publicized gay teen suicides (I should point out that there were always legions of such suicides that went unnoticed for decades). He said in a recent radio interview that he was frustrated for so long that there was no way he could talk directly to gay teens. No high school would ever consent to have him come speak, and the gay teens themselves are usually too intimidated to identify themselves by showing up at a Dan Savage event. Then it occurred to him that now he could speak directly to gay teens through the magic of the Internet and YouTube. And so, It Gets Better was born.

This may well be the most successful gay-positive message project ever. Aside from the celebrities cashing in on the bandwagon, thousands of gays and lesbians of all ages and from all backgrounds have contributed. I'm hearing stories of parents watching these posts with their gay kids.

Most amazing of all to me are these 2 contributions:

When I was a bullied gay teen thinking about killing myself, I only had Nixon to turn to. I can't imagine any previous President even touching this issue, let alone participating in a project initiated by gay activists. I certainly have my complaints about Obama from choosing to rescue the mortgage industry over saving homeowners to enforcing and defending DADT while still pledging to end it. But, there are times when he reminds me of just why I voted for him, and this is one of them.

And then there's this contribution which I find breath-taking:

Teen-aged suicidal me couldn't imagine in 1974 a sitting Secretary of State speaking to me as a suicidal gay teenager and telling me that my country needs me. I am amazed.

An acquaintance of mine said that this whole project and the suicides that inspired it should be a wake-up call for older gays and lesbians. We've complacently assumed that things have improved for gay kids since we were gay kids. Clearly they haven't. It could be argued that things have gotten worse. The Received Wisdom on Homosexuality is now not only challenged, but discredited. The Defenders of the Received Wisdom are striking back all over, determined to win through intimidation and violence what they cannot win through evidence, reason, and decency.

The Talmud famously declares that whoever saves one life saves the world. Thanks Dan and Terry for saving the world.


Grandmère Mimi said...

Counterlight, I agree. The idea and implementation of the "It Get's Better" project are brilliant.

Where are the Republican politicians? Is there not one who will speak out?

Ciss B said...

I love the Jewish outlook, "The Talmud famously declares that whoever saves one life saves the world." You have to love the brevity and love in that statement!