Dear Dan Savage: You are a rich, white man. Of course it got better.
to be honest this project interested me at first, but after watching two or three videos, i changed my mind. colour me cynical: overall, i think it’s really simplistic and not necessarily the most effective tool for achieving its goal. the trigger for the creation of this project as the suicide of billy lucas, and the reason it exists is to encourage queer youth not to commit suicide.
will watching a handful of videos of queer adults telling you being a gay/lesbian/queer teenager sucked, but growing up and becoming an adult will be awesome! and great! and super! and put an end to your suicidal thoughts? to that question, i will reiterate what charles stated in the video above: it doesn’t always get better. for the record, personally? growing up/adulthood has not magically made my queer teenage anxiety issues go away; the responsibility of adulthood, the complication of my own identity and life has often made matters worse, in fact. in all honesty, i’d probably be more fucked up if i had completely bought into the idea that everything would automatically “get better” without me having to work at it.
i still struggle with a lot of self-hate, and a lot of internalized oppressive attitudes to do with my gender, sexuality, class, and many other facets of my identity, and i constantly have to work at not spiraling down into serious depression. but (thank goodness) i’m not alone. a lot of my adult queer friends, of various genders, races, ability, and classes have a lot of the same issues. finding a community, going to gay events, moving away from small towns all helped in different ways. but even all of these great things combined do not negate that homophobia & sexism will not disappear without a fight.
and fighting is hard. just because it didn’t “get better” doesn’t mean you should kill yourself, but it does mean that you have to be prepared for reality and resist the oppression you see happening around you, in whatever way you can. the reality of the situation is that we have to at the very least acknowledge that we live in a world where homophobia, transphobia, sexism, classism, ableism, and white surpremacy are all alive and well at work in many different ways before we can start to dismantle those systems. we have to recognize that there is a fight to be had, and it’s not just for the rights of gay people to get married. we have to acknowledge the role that allies and the bullies play in this system, and reach out to them, too. we have to recognize that even privileged folk like middle-class white gay adults are still fired from their jobs for becoming parents and sharing that information on facebook. we have to acknowledge police brutality against queers and their sad attempts at pink washing. we have to acknowledge the acts of violence perpetrated by both institutions and individuals against (disproportionately) trans people of colour. and we have to find more concrete ways of fighting back against these systems.
the “you will survive it!” attitude denies the fact that some people struggle with many different kinds of mental health issues, anxiety, etc. making these universal blanket statements that “it got better for me, it will get better for you” denies the multiplicity of experiences that make up queer communities and continues to uphold this kind of straight-friendly sanitized version.
in fact, this whole project quite reminds me of the “change your lightbulb” kind of environmentalism, if you can even call it that. you are not going to save the planet if you just change your lightbulbs. you have to ask questions, think critically, curb your consumption,
access to this project is another huge question. the “upload your own stories/anyone can contribute!” attitude assumes that all queer youth have access to a webcam and youtube, and that they can watch these videos without their parents/guardians noticing. online resources for queer youth are one thing, ending homophobia and all the interlocking systems of opppression that uphold it on a larger scale is entirely another.
it gets better is the equivalent of a kid pushing you to the ground, skinning your knees, only to have your parent kiss your bo bo to make it better. band-aid solution if i’ve ever seen one.