What is The It Gets Better Project?:
The Founding of The It Gets Better Project:
In September of 2010, Seattle-based advice columnist, Dan Savage and his partner, Terry Miller, posted a message on YouTube that told GLBT teens that if they were being bullied, considering suicide or otherwise suffering for being gay, that they needed to hold on because things would improve as they got older.
As the couple told teens in the video: "It gets better. However bad it is now, it gets better." It was a simple message with a far reaching effect, and teens, celebrities, politicians, members of the gay community and straight allies began to post messages of support.
The project also turned out a book and an MTV special.
The It Gets Better Pledge:
Visitors to the It Gets Better website are invited to take a pledge intended to pass along the message of hope to teens who are struggling. It reads:
Everyone deserves to be respected for who they are. I pledge to spread this message to my friends, family and neighbors. I'll speak up against hate and intolerance whenever I see it, at school and at work. I'll provide hope for lesbian, gay, bi, trans and other bullied teens by letting them know that "It Gets Better."
It Gets Better: A Message of Hope and Support for GLBT Teens:
Dan Savage had a long career as a sex advice columnist before he launched the It Gets Better Project, but despite being well-know in certain circles, It Gets Better is what really put the gay Seattle husband and dad on the map.
There's a reason for that. The project grew from one video telling GLBT teens that even if their lives seemed impossible and overwhelming right now, things would improve with age, to a viral campaign that everyone from President Barack Obama, to the kid down the street, to Ellen DeGeneres and Neil Patrick Harris wanted to participate in.
Some who posted videos simply told teens to hang in there. Others shared deeply painful and personal experiences. Many videos were seen all over the world, and a selection were turned into essays and included in the project's book.
The It Gets Better Project has been credited not only with providing a light to teens in a dark place, but also with highlighting the very serious issue of GLBT teen suicide.
Of course, the project hasn't solved every gay teen's problems. As one teen wrote on this site, "So it's been a year since I came out to my friends and family. I just want to know, when does it get better?"
Some people have also voiced concerns about the project. One is that it isn't proactive enough. Another is that it sends an unrealistic message, since sometimes it gets better, but sometimes it doesn’t. Others think that it isn't fair to tell teens that they have to wait for things to improve, when they really need their lives to change in the present.
But early on, Savage responded to these criticisms. He wrote in Seattle's alternative weekly, The Stranger, that the project:
"Doesn't solve the problem of anti-gay bullying, everywhere, all at once, forever [but it can] give despairing kids in impossible situations a little thing called hope."
Indeed, if the videos that keep rolling in, and the comments that are left on them, are any indication, hope has been but one of the significant and far reaching impacts of the project.