It Gets Better
Following a rash of suicides by gay teenagers, Dan Savage has instigated the “It Gets Better” project, whereby adult gay and lesbians record short videos reassuring teenage GLTB that life does indeed get better. I love this campaign, but I think ultimately – though I understand not now – it ought not be contained to the GLTB community. At some point, everyone can go where those teenagers who ended their life went. As I understand it, these teenagers were the targets of bullying. I think everyone can agree the world would be a better place without bullying. But bullying alone cannot drive anyone to suicide; were it so, then our schoolyards would be littered with dead children. What is required is for the individual being bullied to believe they deserve it, to turn the knives of the taunt on themselves, thereby inflicting the deepest wound possible: self-loathing.
Once you have rejected your own support, you have no support; once you have rejected your love of yourself, you have no love; once you have rejected your right to a place on this earth, you have no place. And worse, because everyone in the world fears this terrible place whether they understand it or not, and because we believe we can catch ideas as easily as the flu – we may reject that person bound in self-loathing to preserve ourselves, and so the cycle continues.
I can imagine that from within the emerging world-view of the gay or lesbian teenager life can seem a fundamentally lonely and cruel place. “It Gets Better” takes an elegant and compassionate step to remedy that misconception. But life does not merely get better for anyone plummeting down the endless abyss of self-rejection – life actually is better. Even for gay or lesbian teenagers stranded in the most conservative enclaves in America, the struggle for acceptance remains with themselves. Once this acceptance has been achieved, we come to see the taunt not as an attack, but as an offer to loath oneself, as indeed the one doing the taunting already must. Bound in love, it is the offer that will be rejected, and in so doing, the would-be victim becomes a teacher.
If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group conferencing.