I agree with the spirit and intent of the campaign, and I understand why there is a need for it. I read a comment the other day that went something along the lines of, “Of course these old faggots like Dan Savage want young fags not to kill themselves. Who else if he going to fuck?” Sentiments like this are disturbingly common, and they stem from an overall attitude of hostility for homosexuality. This is basically why the gay rights movement exists.
I will try to tread lightly as I provide a little criticism of the “It Gets Better Project.”
And there needs to be criticism, because it’s not exactly the most well thought out campaign. For one thing, it’s based on a lie. I have talked to many gay people who are well past high school, and trust me: it gets worse.
Gay kids in high school don’t have to worry about losing their job and not making the mortgage because they got fired from their job for their sexual orientation. Gay kids aren’t generally at the age when gay marriage bans directly affect their lives. And it’s generally not gay high schoolers who are beaten and dragged behind pick-up trucks.
It just doesn’t get better by magic. The status quo is such that it does not get better just because you get past high school.
To me, the message needs to be: only you can make it better. There needs to be change enacted for it to ever get any better, not only when it comes to gay rights, but anything. Time does not improve the world naturally. Progress is not measured with a watch or a calendar, but in the decibel level of your voice. If you don’t speak out for change and publicly push for it, it ain’t gonna happen.
Which leads me to another criticism… I won’t name the kid, but this whole movement was because some gay guy jumped off a bridge when his roommate set up a webcam and broadcast some gay sexin’. This whole situation pissed me off, and not for any of the reasons given in the public debate.
For one thing, all the blame fell on the roommate with the webcam set up. Newsflash: it was the roommate’s room, too. It’s not like someone snuck into the kid’s room, invaded his personal space, installed a covert camera, and then broadcast it. It was his room, and he was kicked out by this guy who wanted to have sex with another guy.
As someone who lived in college dorms, I sympathize far more with the guy who was kicked out. I always made sure to schedule my sexual escapades around my roommate, and my roommate did the same. I always felt bad for (and gave a place to hang out and watch TV to) anyone who was in the situation of the “locked out” roommate.
So already I hate this kid for locking out his roommate. Strike one. Then, he goes and jumps off a bridge like a drama queen because people found out he was gay. Strike two. Then this kid’s family prosecuted (successfully) the roommate for doing nothing more than videotaping his own room. If it had been a security camera instead of a webcam, no one would have questioned it. Since it’s a “webcam” and the kid killed himself and was gay… that roommate is a monster.
Strike three, you’re out. Good riddance, I don’t miss you. I’m glad you did it, and I wish more people like you would jump off bridges. I hope the family dies in a firey car crash and that all vestiges of any DNA you had is wiped from the gene pool.
Why so much hostility? Well for one thing, it gives gay rights a bad name to attach itself to this incident. It’s a tacit admission that, “Hey, we idolize a guy who thought being gay was so awful that having other people know you’re gay is worth killing yourself over.” What the fuck kind of message is that? We shouldn’t be putting people on a pedestal for killing themselves after being outed. How does that make any sense?
Dan Savage is an icon of the gay culture, not a douche who took a flying leap off the George Washington when his homosexuality was made public. If Dan Savage wasn’t in some way associated with this whole “It Gets Better” thing, I would say it was hopeless. But Dan Savage can publicly say, “I’m gay,” and not want to die, and he fights tooth and nail for gay rights.
That is how it will get better, from gay activists who actually care about the gay community and who work to make it better for all, not from self-loathing cowards who aren’t worthy of even having me write their names. We should forget those types of people, the kind who run from their problems, the kind who give up, the quitters. They aren’t even worth a memory.
That is what we should be telling people. We should remind them that if you take the lazy way out, if you are too afraid to confront difficulty, we won’t honor you with anything, and we won’t even bother to remember you. I guarantee you that if that idea crosses the mind of someone looking over the ledge, it’s a whole lot more likely that they won’t jump than if they’re thinking, “I’ll be a hero for this…”