Tuesday, August 9, 2011
It Gets Better
It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living
Ed. by Dan Savage and Terry Miller
Every story can change a life.
Growing up isn't easy. Many young people face daily tormenting and bullying, making them feel like they have nowhere to turn. This is especially true for LGBT kids and teens who often hide their sexuality for fear of bullying. Without other openly gay adults and mentors in their lives, they can't imagine what their future may hold. In many instances, gay and lesbian adolescents are taunted - even tortured - simply for being themselves.
After a number of tragic suicides by LGBT students who were bullied in school, syndicated columnist and author Dan Savage uploaded a video to YouTube with his partner Terry Miller to inspire hope for LGBT youth facing harassment. Speaking openly about the bullying they suffered as teenagers, and how they both went on to lead rewarding adult lives, their video launched the It Gets Better Project YouTube channel and initiated a worldwide phenomenon. With over 6,000 videos posted and over 20 million views in the first three months alone, the world has embraced the opportunity to provide personal, honest and heartfelt support for LGBT youth everywhere.
It Gets Better is a collection of expanded essays and new material from celebrities, everyday people and teens who have posted videos of encouragement, as well as new contributors who have yet to post videos to the site. While many of these teens couldn't see a positive future for themselves, we can. We can show LGBT youth the levels of happiness, potential and positivity their lives will reach if they can just get through their teen years. By sharing these stories, It Gets Better reminds teenagers in the LGBT community that they are not alone - and it WILL get better. (description from Amazon.com)
I am truly proud to have this book in my library collection. Though I am not homosexual, many people are, and finally...finally, people are starting to openly accept this in our society. However, the changes that we've seen - celebrities opening up about their homosexuality, homosexual marriages becoming legal in some states, etc. - are still not quite trickling down to the day to day existence of most teens in the US.
In too many places, teens are ridiculing other teens' sexual preferences because of either their own insecurities or the prejudices they've been raised with. A book like this, built on the YouTube phenomenon project "It Gets Better," really will help individual teens to remember that they are not alone. There are people that they can talk to and if they can just make it through to becoming an adult, it will become better.
This book does not promote the illusion that one day *click* everything will just fall in to place and their lives will be perfect and conflict-free. What it does is shares stories of people who have made it to a better place. Maybe not the perfect place, but one where suicide is not a daily consideration...where the average person around you does not belittle you...where you can actually be who you are without worrying about the consequences.
In reality, this is not just something that LGBT teens long for...it's so easy to get wrapped up in our own lives as teenagers. Everything feels so horrifically dramatic when you can't quite seem to figure out who you are. This is the same, no matter your sexuality. This is really why a book like this is important. Not only does it support LGBT teens, but heterosexual teens (and adults) can benefit from reading, as well. Each vignette serves as a reminder that for every time you ever felt bullied and belittled, someone else did too, for whatever reason. If this causes you to say one nice thing to one person each day, then the book did a world of good!!