Sometimes my day job as a filmmaker lets me do really cool things. This last weekend I edited an “It Gets Better” video for Google employees with director Mario Galarreta. Using first-person video testimonials from LGBTQ people, the It Gets Better Project was founded by writer Dan Savage in September 2010 as a unique way for supporters everywhere to tell lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and questioning youth who are disheartened, have been bullied or are at risk for suicide one simple truth — that it gets better.
It really does. When I was growing up, I was sure if my parents found out, that I’d be kicked out of the house, that they wouldn’t pay for college and that I’d be alone and miserable. And yet, when I did get to college and met my wonderful, supportive lifetime friends — it all changed for me. And while coming out to my parents wasn’t easy, they’re very supportive today. It’s so important for all gay and transgendered kids — 13, 14, 15, whatever — to know that right now — your teens, when you have the least amount of power, freedom and support — really is the hardest part and that if you can just stick it out for just a few more years, hell even a few more months, that things can and will get better. And that, in fact, they can be awesome. 🙂
I’m proud of the work I did on this video — and there was even more great stuff that had to be left out due to time and other concerns. Things that I think would have been great for kids to hear — especially stuff relating to family. One employee talked about how, when he came out, his mother told him she wished he had told her he “had died” instead — and yet now, she’s his biggest supporter. Another employee talked about how everyone said “whatever you do, don’t tell Grandma, she can’t handle it” — and yet Grandma found out anyway by seeing that employee embracing their lover in their Facebook profile and immediately commented “You look beautiful together.”
Even if it seems like the worst has happened or will happen — even if it seems like your parents will never love you again — things can and do get better. Love is stronger than hate. Gay people have nothing to fear from the truth. Thus the more your loved ones find out about you and other gay people, the more likely they are to come around. It just takes time.
But that means you have to be willing to stick around to find out. I know it’s hard. I came close to killing myself several times as a teen. There were many days when I just wanted the pain, the fear, the sadness, just to stop — forever. All I can say now is — now that my life is filled with the love of my friends, my family and the wonderful guys I’ve had in my life — I’m very glad I didn’t. It would have been a terrible mistake. All the good times I’ve had since then outweigh those hard times by a factor of several thousand.
It really does get better.
(If you are a young person having a hard time, there are lots of good resources out there that can help make things better right now. There are gay youth meetings in most every state, including my own beloved Outright Vermont which totally helped me out when a teen. Another is The Trevor Project, a national 24-hour, toll free confidential suicide hotline for gay and questioning youth. They have online, anonymous chat as well as a 24-hour toll free number you can call: 866-488-7386. There is no reason you have to go through this alone — and, if you are able to check out your local gay youth group, lots of cool and handsome kids your own age to meet!)