By now, most of you are probably familiar with the “It Gets Better” project, an online sensation aimed to decrease suicide in LGBTQ youth. Founded by columnist Dan Savage and his partner Terry Miller, the project is an answer to to a burning question on the minds of many—why is LGBTQ suicide on the rise in a society that is supposedly becoming more and more accepting of diversity? In recent years, same-sex marriage has become legal in several states. The United States armed services repealed the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy last year due to overwhelming public response. The gay community is represented in all forms of media and entertainment, making “being gay” seem less taboo. So why, after all of these revolutionary movements, is suicide still an increasing problem amongst LGBTQ youth?
Unfortunately for most of the victims of LGBTQ-related suicide, it seems the problem lies in the lack of acceptance they feel in their homes or communities. Even though laws are changing and tolerance is improving, many LGBTQ young people are not able to feel accepted by their families or peers. An increase in bullying has resulted in a surge of suicides, making it clear that these individuals genuinely felt that they had no other choice but to end their lives.
We all know that high school can be tough, but things tend to improve once you move on into the real world. This is exactly the sentiment that the “It Gets Better” project intends to portray. Started by one lone video testimonial in September of 2010, the project’s dedicated website now boasts over 22,000 videos of people from all walks of life. Some talk about their troubled past, some tell stories about friends who were bullied, but all have the same message—that life after your teen years really does get better.
On the suicide of 15 year-old Billy Lucas, an event which sparked the project: “I wish I could have talked to this kid for five minutes. I wish I could have told Billy that it gets better. I wish I could have told him that, however bad things were, however isolated and alone he was, it gets better.” Dan Savage, founder of the “It Gets Better” project.