“It Gets Better”

Love one another.” It’s a simple, memorable, and easy-to remember phrase uttered, one is told, some 2010 years ago. People need such phrases, even though—like “Love one another”—they can be difficult to follow.

“It gets better”—another simple, easy-to-remember phrase—has sprung to life the past few weeks through the agency of Dan Savage, author of the sex-advice column “Savage Love,” and his partner, Terry Miller. They were moved by the recent spate of suicides of young gay persons, some not yet in their teens.

The most prominent and highly-publicized was that of Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old Rutgers freshman who was a talented violinist. Some youngsters were bullied. Clementi’s roommate and a cohort secretly filmed Clementi with a male partner, and it was broadcast online.

Savage and Miller produced an 8 1/2-minute video—visit <www.itgetsbetterproject.com> to watch it—aimed specifically at gay teens stressed to the point that they might consider suicide as their only option. The two talk about how they met after surviving harrowing school and family situations. They return repeatedly to the powerful promise, “It gets better.”

This is the most important and most basic message that a troubled youngster needs to hear. Someone who is 13 or even 18 years old doesn’t have the experience to realize that time itself can bring surcease to much of his or her pain.

It is unconscionable that bullying continues to be condoned and ignored in our schools, but if a youngster can escape, life can improve from that point on.

Until that time, gay kids—or any child tormented for his or her color, body shape, religion, extraordinary talent, or gender—need a lifeline.

While clinging to the promise that “It gets better,” they can access videos like that of Savage and Miller, along with hundreds of others springing up on YouTube and other Web sites. They also can get advice about places to seek help and people to talk to—perhaps even a teacher at school, as Savage was fortunate enough to find.

Three words, a sympathetic adult, or the knowledge that he or she is not the only one can mean the difference between death and a fulfilling life for a young person. Best of all, Savage and Miller have shown that individuals can make a difference.

Here in Minneapolis, existing groups, clubs, or friends can think of ways to show a preteen, a high schooler, or an isolated college student that, indeed, “It gets better.”

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