The It Gets Better Project was a response to the string of queer youth suicides that made headlines in September 2010. On September 21, 2010, Seattle columnist and blogger, Dan Savage, uploaded a video message expressing his distress, concern, and advice about the unfortunate events, to Youtube. In the video, he and his partner talk about their experiences growing up, being bullied, and address at-risk queer youth telling them that life gets better after high school. The message of hope caught on when more youtube videos of the same nature popped up by a range of contributors, from average citizens to celebrities and politicians. In a matter of days, the It Gets Better project had gone viral as hundreds of uploads kept pouring in online. High profile contributions include President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Stephen Colbert, Jane Lynch, and compiled videos from employees of Google, Pixar, Facebook, and others. To date, there are over 50,000 videos that have amassed more than 50 million views and counting.
The success of the project led to turning It Gets Better into an official non-profit organization with a central focus on combating LGBT teen suicide and engaging with local school districts and governments to help improve the situation and consequences around bullying and the overall life condition of queer youth. To date, the project has extended itself and name to an edited book of testimonials, a reality show on MTV, countless local efforts and projects like youth film festivals, fundraisers, and forums for conversation with and about queer youth.
It Gets Better has also attempted to make use of its global scope and internationally diverse videos to coordinate conferences, film and pride festivals, and social media outreach across six continents. The project also instituted the BETTERLegal program that utilizes volunteers to help facilitate organizations seeking It Gets Better videos for all-purpose use. In 2013 the project spawned a new effort, the It Gets Better Tour, a show presented by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles that travels domestically to various cities – including Ogden, Utah; Lincoln, Nebraska; Whitewater, Wisconsin, and many more – to perform and engage in locally facilitated dialogues and workshops. For more information and upcoming tour dates, check out http://www.itgetsbettertour.org/.
For more info and resources on the It Gets Better project, visit http://www.itgetsbetter.org/.
Contributed by Raffi Sarkissian on 5/10/14