It Gets Better Project

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It Gets Better Project
Founded September 21, 2010; 8 years ago (2010-09-21)
Founders Dan Savage and Terry Miller
Type 501(c)(3)
Location
Area served
Worldwide
Slogan It Gets Better
Website itgetsbetter.org

It Gets Better is an Internet-based 501(c)3 nonprofit founded in the United States by gay activist, author, media pundit, and journalist Dan Savage and his husband[1] Terry Miller[2] on September 21, 2010, in response to the suicides of teenagers who were bullied because they were gay or because their peers suspected that they were gay. Its goal is to prevent suicide among LGBT youth by having gay adults convey the message that these teens' lives will improve.[3] The project has grown rapidly: over 200 videos were uploaded in the first week,[4] and the project's YouTube channel reached the 650 video limit in the next week.[5] The project is now organized on its own website, the It Gets Better Project,[5] and includes more than 50,000 entries from people of all sexual orientations,[6] including many celebrities;[7] the videos have received over 50 million views.

A book of essays from the project was released in March 2011.[8] The project was given the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Governor's Award at the 64th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards for "strategically, creatively and powerfully utilizing the media to educate and inspire," according to the academy's chairman and CEO Bruce Rosenblum.[9]

Project history

Dan Savage (2005)

The project was founded by Savage in response to the suicide of Billy Lucas and other teenagers who were bullied because they were gay or perceived to be, such as with Raymond Chase, Tyler Clementi, Ryan Halligan, Asher Brown, and Seth Walsh.[10][11] Savage wrote, "I wish I could have talked to this kid for five minutes. I wish I could have told Billy that it gets better. I wish I could have told him that, however bad things were, however isolated and alone he was, it gets better."[12] In September 2004, they launched their YouTube channel.[13] A one-hour special aired on February 21, 2012, hosted by Savage. A second special is slated to air on October 9 on MTV and Logo.[14][needs update]

U.S. President Barack Obama lent his voice to the movement against bullying and contributed a video on October 21, 2010, saying "We've got to dispel this myth that bullying is just a normal rite of passage; that it's just some inevitable part of growing up. It's not. We have an obligation to ensure that our schools are safe for all of our kids. And for every young person out there you need to know that if you're in trouble, there are caring adults who can help."[7] In March 2011, Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted an anti-bullying conference.[15]

In September 2011, 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer in Buffalo, New York committed suicide after complaining about being bullied for being gay. In May 2011, he had created an "It gets better" YouTube video for other gay kids not to get discouraged about bullying.[16] In October 2011, 15-year-old Jamie Hubley committed suicide after being subjected to anti-gay bullying. The project operates as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

Contributors

President of the United States Barack Obama contributed a video to the It Gets Better Project (2010)

People and groups named on this list as notable It Gets Better video contributors are linked to associated articles and include footnotes with an external link to their video and any other relevant citations.

Individuals

Organizations and groups

Other

Countries adopting similar projects

Australia

In Australia, the organisation, It Gets Better Australia, was established as the official Australian affiliate to the US based It Gets Better Project in 2011 and is supported by well-known members of the community including Ministers Kevin Rudd and Anna Bligh who have made their own YouTube videos. Kevin Rudd is quoted as saying "You have the strength of the Australian nation behind you", encouraging teenagers to feel comfortable in their own identity.[292] Other Australian identities to have supported the regional project include Triple J, Telstra, Optus, Missy Higgins, Courtney Act and Kerryn Phelps. Infographic on Bullying of LGBT peoples in Australia

Canada

One organization, It Gets Better Canada, created a 12-minute video which featured a number of Canadian LGBT public figures, including Deb Pearce, Rick Mercer, Rex Harrington, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Enza Anderson, Diane Flacks, Brad Fraser, Mark Tewksbury, George Smitherman, Peter Fallico, Laurie Lynd and the cast of 1 Girl 5 Gays, talking about their own experiences of coming out in a documentary interview format. In addition to the Trevor Project, this video also endorsed two similar Canadian services, Kids Help Phone and Toronto's Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Youth Line.[293] A similar video was subsequently released by a group of Canadian Broadcasting Corporation employees, including national network figures such as Jian Ghomeshi, Sook-Yin Lee, W. Brett Wilson and Brent Bambury as well as numerous other staffers and freelancers, speaking about their experiences of bullying on a variety of issues, including sexuality, race and disability.[294] Former politicians Michael Ignatieff and Jack Layton also released videos when they were in office.

Following the 2011 suicide of Ottawa teenager Jamie Hubley, an It Gets Better-themed video dedicated to Hubley, filmed on Parliament Hill and featuring commentary by Parliament staffers, Conservative members of parliament including John Baird, Vic Toews, Lois Brown, Alice Wong, Mike Wallace, Rona Ambrose, Shelly Glover, Deepak Obhrai, Candice Hoeppner and David Sweet and Conservative Senator Don Meredith was posted to YouTube on October 20, 2011.[295] Former law clerk for the Federal Court Josh D. Scheinert noted on The Huffington Post that many of the participant legislators in the video had voted against the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2005 and that a few had ties to anti-gay organizations,[296] but he concurred with Dan Savage's opinion that the video was a first, but not final, step for the Conservative Party towards better relations with LGBT citizens in Canada.[297]

In addition, comedian Rick Mercer — who had previously made an earlier, more lighthearted "It Gets Better" video[298] — devoted a weekly "rant" on Rick Mercer Report to an updated comment on the subject, making an impassioned plea for LGBT public figures to come out on the grounds that Hubley's death had made it unacceptable to stay silent anymore.[299] Mercer — who first came out as gay in 2009 — faced some criticism for not explicitly reminding viewers in the video that he is gay himself; he subsequently appeared on CBC Radio One's The Current to talk about the video and his own experience as a gay man.[300]

In 2012, a group video was also released by twenty Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers.[301]

Peru

The Peruvian version was launched on January 7, 2011 as "Proyecto Todo Mejora" ("Everything Gets Better Project"). It was an initiative of psychologist/journalist Victor Cerna. It has engaged some of the leading Peruvian political and showbiz leaders on the subject of LGBT bullying, including former vice-presidential nominee Carlos Bruce and current Lima mayor Susana Villarán. Although originally inspired by the American project, the Peruvian project has created its own logo and has expanded its original message to straight youth in recent months.[302]

Chile

The project Todo Mejora ("Everything Gets Better") was launched on March 20, 2012 in Chile. In August 2011 the activist Júlio Cezar Dantas raised the idea of creating a Spanish version of the original site along with the U.S. coordinators of It Gets Better. They identified and contacted the Chilean organization Fundación Iguales ("Equal Foundation") to support the initiative. The organization agreed to work, and make an alliance, with Proyecto Todo Mejora ("Everything Gets Better Project"). The Chilean project also aims to support, together with the coordinators of It Gets Better U.S., other countries in Latin America who want to create a Todo Mejora project in their nations.[303]

Finland

In Finland, numerous celebrities including Ministers Tuija Brax and Alexander Stubb appeared on a YouTube video Kaikki muuttuu paremmaksi ("Everything Will Get Better") encouraging teenagers to feel comfortable with their sexuality.[304][305]

European Union

One of the Vice-Presidents of the European Commission and the European Commissioner for Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, recorded an "It Gets Better Europe" video.[306]

Italy

In Italy, Isbn Edizioni launched the campaign "Le cose cambiano" (literally, Things Change), the Italian affiliate of the project.

Malaysia

In Malaysia, the organizers of the festival Seksualiti Merdeka produced a series of videos within the vein of the It Gets Better Project featuring bloggers such as Azwan Ismail, Pang Khee Teik, Gary Ooi, Jerome Kugan, Joe Pang, Kavidha Natarajan, Michelle Nor Ismat, Nabila Nasir, Nisha, Peter Ong, Seetha, Sharaad Kuttan, Sulastri & Tina Fazlita Fadzil, and Alvin Ng. Ismail's video, which was addressed directly to gay Muslims in the country, resulted in anonymous death threats being issued against him. The videos were inspired by an interview of Gabrielle Yong, a 21-year-old Malaysian openly bisexual student who attempted suicide while studying abroad in Massachusetts; while her attempt was due to the difficulty of adjustment in a different environment, she was inspired to contribute her own testimony in the vein of the project.[citation needed]

South Africa

Andrew Barry recorded various videos,[307] at the University of Cape Town, including one featuring the captain of the university's Ikey Tigers rugby team, Nick Fenton-Wells.

Sweden

In Sweden, TV3 (via Meter Television) and the Swedish Save the Children launched the campaign "Det blir bättre". The campaign did not target LGBT youth but rather all youth, not wanting to exclude heterosexual children, and was criticized for watering down the concept.[308] The campaign was later relaunched under the same name but as a grass-roots movement and with a focus on LGBT youth.[309]

United Kingdom

The former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom David Cameron,[310] other UK Members of Parliament, members of the UK armed forces, schoolteachers, comedians, actors, media presenters, journalists, writers, students, sportspeople, parents, DJs, and other celebrities and members of the public have recorded videos for a similar project called "It gets better... today", with the strapline "We can make it happen" for the UK lesbian, gay and bisexual rights charity Stonewall, which was inspired by the original American project, and is part of Stonewall's anti-homophobic bullying in schools and anti-discrimination campaign.[311][312][313] They have also collected statements of support from other celebrities, some of them from outside the UK, for example Katy Perry, Beverley Knight, Christina Aguilera, Danny Miller and Marc Silcock, Kieron Richardson, Ian 'H' Watkins, Jon Lee, Amy Lamé, Joe McElderry, Sarah Waters, John Amaechi, Skunk Anansie, and Stella Duffy,[314] and has also inspired other organisations to take part, such as The Co-operative Group[315] and Tesco.[316] In October 2011 several lesbian UK musicians got together to record the song 'It Does Get Better' under the banner of The L Project, an anti-LGBT-bullying fundraising initiative led by Georgey Payne (of lesbian band Greymatter) and Sofia Antonia Milone (of Geekgirl). The song's aim, with accompanying video,[317] is to raise funds for charities Stonewall and Diversity Role Models for their work addressing the issue of LGBT bullying in schools, and also to help spread the message that it gets better. The song reached number 11 in the Official UK independent singles chart[318] in February 2012, the week it was released, and spent several days at the top of the UK iTunes and Amazon rock and folk/rock charts.[319]

Switzerland

In May 2011, Daniel R. Frey and Fabio Huwyler started the Swiss affiliate of the Project.[320] Both work at gayRadio, a Swiss LGBT-Radiobroadcast. Frey and Huwyler named their Project "Es Wird Besser Schweiz", the German translation of the sentence "It Gets Better Switzerland".

Mexico

In May 2014, Todo Mejora Monterrey started as a local affiliate in the Mexican northern city of Monterrey, with Fernanda Garza as the President. In June of the same year, the project expanded at a national level, known as It Gets Better México. Alex R. Orué, one of the contributors of the It Gets Better book, joined the group and works for the project from Mexico City as their National Coordinator, and also he now serves as the Regional Coordinator for Latin America at It Gets Better Project.

The project has earned collaborations from public figures in Mexico, such as from actor and singer Mauricio Martínez, politologist and writer Genaro Lozano, activist and journalist Enrique Torre Molina, blogger and radio host Johnny Carmona and singer and songwriter Jaime Kohen.

Book

In March 2011, It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living, a book of essays edited by Dan Savage and Terry Miller on the same theme as the web video project, was released. It contains more than 100 essays,[321] some transcribed or expanded from the videos and others original. Contributors include Jennifer Finney Boylan, Gregory Maguire, Meshell Ndegeocello, Michael Cunningham, Suze Orman, and David Sedaris. The book is published by Dutton Penguin. It made the New York Times bestseller list.[322]

See also

References

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Further reading

External links