Tag Archive: It Gets Better

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:

Damn it.

This kid is dead now.

This is the It Gets Better home video made by 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer, posted just 4 months before he, apparently, took his own life outside his house this weekend.

Seems to me this kid had so much in his favor. Supportive parents. Wisdom to hook into the It Gets Better movement created by Dan Savage so older people could help pull young people through with a better picture of what their grown-up lives could be, if they can just slog through adolescence. In Jamey’s own It Gets Better video, he said he regretted creating a Formspring, a Q & A social media site that permits anonymous comments. Jamey’s account sounds like a battleground; hateful anonymous posts about his being gay, alongside signed posts from friends encouraging him not to listen to “the cowards” abusing him. Friends reported his abuse to counselors at his middle school. He was seeing a social worker, a therapist. He was even hip enough to be blogging about bullying, reminding people a couple weeks ago about Suicide Prevention Week. But he’s gone anyway.

This all happened in New York, not here.

But here in New Jersey, when school started days ago, the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act became a reality for schools all over the state. To be sure, schools are grappling with unfamiliar procedures, and regulations are still being honed. But hateful threats that gay people go to Hell goes on and on and on. Know what I did the night the NJ Senate voted down marriage equality? I was on my way to a Garden State Equality reception. But I got stopped by a young man with his best friend, a girl, who’d poured out volunteer labor for GSE. I apologized that we couldn’t do better for him. He told me he’d just called his mother to tell her the vote, looking for sympathy. His mother replied that he was unnatural and going to Hell.

Jamey’s suicide was New York, not here. But NY is New Jersey’s beacon right now, the equality state right next door. And one of the reasons ME is important is that it tells young gay kids in a way nothing else does that there’s a future for their fragile, new love lives. We lose kids for so damned many reasons – poverty, illness, malnutrition, violence. And we lose kids because they can’t imagine a future they can fit in.

In one of his last acts, Jamey thanked Lady Gaga for her music’s message of self-acceptance. In March, Gaga stood on a stage in Buffalo near where Jamey lived, and asked her audience to call state senator Mark Grisanti and tell him to reverse his opposition to marriage equality. They did. And a facebook campaign followed. Grisanti did in fact flip, and was one of the key votes that got ME passed in New York. And Grisanti was Jamey’s local state senator, a Republican. That’s something we can’t even get Democrats in New Jersey to do. So far.

I didn’t really write this for you guys. This readership gets it. I wrote this for your neighbors, the guy in the cubicle next to you, the kid that delivers your Sunday paper. It never hurts to be on the lookout for simple acts of meanness that may be some teenager’s last.

RIP, kid.

Disclosure: I’m on the board at Garden State Equality, but I’d write this anyway.

National Coming Out Day- Come out against Bullying and Homophobia

I didn’t know until today that Ed was once the Residence Counselor at Davidson, the dorm Tyler Clementi lived in. A few years earlier, and it might have been Ed that Tyler came to for help. Breaks my heart. – promoted by Rosi

As you may know, Monday October 11 is National Coming Out Day.  The annual day encourages young people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered or questioning to feel comfortable being open about who they are.  Sadly, we know all too well that for many, coming out isn’t easy or safe.  Last week, the senseless death of Tyler Clementi was an unfortunate reminder that too many GLBTQ young people do not feel safe or welcome in this world.  It breaks my heart that he was made to feel unwelcome at Rutgers, my own alma mater.  It has been heartening to see the gay and straight communities come together in the wake of Tyler’s suicide to condemn the bullying and violence that makes our young people feel alone and unsafe.  But we must continue working together to ensure that the coming out process for our young people is more accepting.  Thousands of teens and young adults like Tyler face bullying and violence every day simply because of who they are.  This has to end.

Teenagers are dying because they are gay.  Tyler was not the only life lost this month because of gay related bullying or violence. This is unacceptable.  

National Coming Out Day is a call to arms for both the gay and straight communities.  We must commit to making the world safe for all of our children.  We have to make sure that children and young adults grow up knowing that they are loved and welcome for who they are.  And we must repudiate intolerance from the start, so that more children grow up knowing that homophobia, hatred and bullying are unacceptable.  As Harvey Milk once said, “all young people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential.”  Milk said this over thirty years ago, but the sentiment is timeless, and we are clearly not there yet.  We still have work to do make this a reality.

Earlier this week, I filmed a video for Dan Savage’s “It gets better” project.  I’d like to share it with you:  

We all have to work together to ensure that for those who are preparing to come out and those who are already out, it WILL get better.