"It Gets Better"

by Joe Newton

From the ACLU website:

In his September 23, 2010, Savage Love column, Dan Savage wrote about 15-year-old Billy Lucas, an Indiana teen who committed suicide after persistent bullying and harassment by his classmates for being gay. 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.”

So Savage started the “It Gets Better Project” on YouTube, in which LGBT adults are encouraged to submit videos of themselves talking to LGBT teenagers who suffer abuse similar to Billy Lucas’s. And several other teens who ended up commiting suicide recently, as it turns out, including Cody Barker, age 17, of Shiocton, Wisconsin; Asher Brown, age 13, of Houston, Texas; Seth Walsh, age 13, of Tehachapi, California; Tyler Clementi, age 18, the Rutgers University student who jumped off the George Washington Bridge; Raymond Chase, age 19, a student in Providence, Rhode Island; and Justin Aaberg, age 15, of Anoka, Minnesota.

As a heterosexual Christian, I was particularly interested in hearing the theological response, specifically Why Anti-Gay Bullying is a Theological Issue And the moral imperative of anti-bullying preaching, teaching, and activism, by Cody J. Sanders:

Anti-gay bullying is a theological issue because it has a theological base. I find it difficult to believe that even those among us with a vibrant imagination can muster the creative energy to picture a reality in which anti-gay violence and bullying exist without the anti-gay religious messages that support them.

These messages come in many forms, degrees of virulence, and volumes of expression. The most insidious forms, however, are not those from groups like Westboro Baptist Church. Most people quickly dismiss this fanaticism as the red-faced ranting of a fringe religious leader and his small band of followers.

More difficult to address are the myriad ways in which everyday churches that do a lot of good in the world also perpetuate theologies that undergird and legitimate instrumental violence. The simplistic, black and white lines that are drawn between conceptions of good and evil make it all-too-easy to apply these dualisms to groups of people. When theologies leave no room for ambiguity, mystery and uncertainty, it becomes very easy to identify an “us” (good, heterosexual) versus a “them” (evil, gay).

I don’t think it’s religion bashing to suggest that Rev. Sanders, an ordained Baptist minister, BTW, is making a valid point here. Indeed, I always fight off the urge of some to paint religion, and especially Christianity, with the broad brush of intolerance, just because there are intolerant (and generally LOUD) Christians who are better at attracting media attention.
Make It Better Project on Facebook, and the website.

Coming out for equality- National Coming Out Day, October 11 on Facebook, whether you identify as LGBT or a straight ally.
Kathy Griffin on the recent gay teen suicides (via SamuraiFrog)

NOM Exposed: truths, lies and connections about the so-called National Organization for Marriage

0 thoughts on “"It Gets Better"”

  1. Unfortunately, RELIGION is ALWAYS used to support one’s prejudices and agendas, whether that is warfare – “Gott mit Uns,” “Onward Christian Soldiers,” etc., has been used to support slavery (‘It’s in the BIBLE, y’know’), and anti-gay positions (the Catholic, Baptist, Muslim, and Morman antipathy toward all manner of gay rights). I wonder if the good works that some religious people do balances off the evil done in religion’s name…


  2. Thanks Roger, for coming over.
    And also thanks for the compliment.
    Ginger n Buddy are the love of my life:) 🙂

    About teen-suicides…there have been increasing incidences in India too. In most cases it is pressures at school and colleges to perform. and then there are issues of peer rejection due to various reasons.
    whatever be the reason, it is sad that such young people can be so desperately unhappy and helpless that they actually muster up the courage to kill themselves.


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