NJ Congressional Delegation Makes ‘It Gets Better’ Video

UPDATE: We know a little more now about how this video was compiled. Senator Lautenberg with his staff took the initiative, in recognition of National Bullying Prevention Month, which is October. To accommodate busy schedules, blocks of time over two weeks were reserved at the Capitol Visitor Center Recording Studio, with invitations to members of NJ’s congressional delegation to record. There are a few faces missing – it would be even better with Reps. Andrews, Garrett, Frelinghuysen, Pallone  and Smith. And we must point out that  Lance & LoBiondo voted NO on DADT repeal, as Runyan might have but he wasn’t sworn in yet.  But the effort, and especially Senator Lautenberg’s initiative, are much appreciated.

BTW – I’m told this is the first-ever It Gets Better video that includes elected Republicans.

The New Jersey suicide of Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi and other other young gay people prompted the It Gets Better Project, a labor of love from columnist Dan Savage and his husband Terry Miller. The project took off like wildfire; over the last year celebrities, sports teams, and ordinary people have turned their webcams on themselves to give encouragement to teens and kids of a welcoming future for themselves. And those videos, some of them simple and low-tech, made by ordinary people, are bouncing all over the internet.

Last month, an upstate New York 14-year-old named Jamey Rodemeyer killed himself outside his house. A smart kid, with supportive parents, and friends who cared about him. A kid whose NY state senator had led other Republicans to reverse course and help pass marriage equality in New York State, in part after Jamey’s hero Lady Gaga had asked her Buffalo audience to ask him to. Jamey’s last message was a thank you to Lady Gaga for her message of self-worth to gay kids. And Jamey had himself just months earlier made an ‘It Gets Better’ video to give confidence to other kids. Jamey himself died last month, after a particularly rough bout of online bullying.

Proof if ever there was any that there’s work still to be done. This is the ‘It Gets Better’ video that’s going to the press later today, with our thanks to Senator Frank Lautenberg’s office for the advance heads-up:

Comments (11)

  1. Jay Lassiter

    Jon Runyan’s participation in this video is especially meaningful and noteworthy.  In two ways actually.  First of all, he’s a member of a political party that’s feasted on anti-gay rhetoric for decades so he represents a younger, hipper, more gay tolerant GOP which seems to be (slowly) emerging.  Secondly — and this is perhaps more significant — is he’s also an ex-pro football player.  So fans of the Eagles (and the NFL) now have one more of their own preaching the good word about tolerance towards gays.  I’ll work like hell to ensure he doesn’t get re-elected, but i toast him for this gesture.

  2. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

    I’m hearing that this is the first It Gets Better video featuring elected Republicans, which I just added to the post. Incredible, if true.  

  3. gary stein

    I won’t watch.  Just more hypocrisy, “landslides” is a bully himself, heeeheee  

  4. Alex

    …of the It Gets Better project, at least as I recall when it was first launched, was to have LGBT adults recall their own experience and to reach out to LGBT youth to give them hope to get them through the hurt and fear and violence that so often accompany growing up gay. I think that’s where the real power of Dan Savage’s effort was. I can’t shake the feeling that, as public figures and politicians now make their own “It Gets Better” style videos, that they are helping to dilute the original idea. Don’t get me wrong: it’s definitely laudable that so many public figures are supportive. But the cynic in me finds himself asking, when seeing videos of people who, for the most part, never experienced being bullied for being perceived as LGBT: “How would they know? And what LGBT kid would believe them when they say it gets better?” And the cynic in me also wonders how many of those politicians are actively working to make sure that the LGBT youth of today will have equal and full rights and protections under the law when they become adults. I know many of them are. But are all of them? It’s a great video. But are all the members of our delegation doing the hard work it takes so that our youth can look forward to taking an equal and respected place in society?

  5. Rosi Efthim (Post author)

    Yes, the Eagles and the NFL have some room to “get better” themselves, as this offensive comment from Eagles player DeSean Jackson on Sirius Radio this summer shows.

    Like Jay says, it’s good when a message of respect and acceptance comes not only from the people you’d expect but the ones who you don’t expect. Bravo.

    And why shouldn’t we expect it from everybody? If you love kids – and who ever says they don’t? – you have to love them however they show up to the world.  

  6. deciminyan

    Kudos to Jon Runyan for his message, and like Jay, I’ll work for his opponent, but bullying is a problem that transcends political parties. (Are you listening Mr. New Jersey Congressman who did not appear in the video?)

  7. Bertin Lefkovic

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I did not see Rodney Frelinghuysen, Scott Garrett, Frank Pallone, or Chris Smith in this video.  Does anyone know if these omissions were due to an inability or an unwillingness to participate?

    It definitely was good to see Runyan there.  Now, if only he could come out against Michael Vick and his brutality against innocent animals.  Or is that too much to ask for?

  8. Bertin Lefkovic

    It is like wearing one of the many cause-oriented ribbons and doing nothing else.

  9. Babs NJSD

    Are members of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus and have excellent records. So the question should be whether they were actually able to be in the video, assuming they were asked.

    Garrett? you got to be kidding!

    Smith? You should have been with me as I accompanied an adult transgender constituent of his to his DC office last spring … His staff(all present) really gave her the cold shoulder ( a former Whitman aide).

  10. Bertin Lefkovic

    I just noticed who was missing (forgot about Andrews) and was curious if it was due to a lack of availability or a lack of desire.

    I was surprised to see LoBiondo and Runyan in the video.  I would not have assumed that they or any of their Republican colleagues would have done a video like this, so I was curious about why they were in it and the others weren’t.

  11. Babs NJSD

    They not being virulent anti-lgbt ideologues like Smith and Garrett and they being in moderate districts.


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