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'It Gets Better' Offers Message of Hope to Bullied Gay Youths

Dan Savage discusses his campaign to support young people — and how the older community helped out.

Q: Among the thousands of uploaded videos on YouTube and your website, do you have a favorite? And why?

A: I love Gabrielle Rivera's. She's a lesbian, Latina poet. Bronx-born and raised. And her video begins with her saying that it doesn't get better. What happens, she says, is that you get stronger, which is the Latina, lesbian, Bronx way of saying that it gets better.

Q: Why is it important for people ages 50 and over to know about the It Gets Better movement?

A: Because you might have a gay kid or a gay grandkid. Families used to think that they could prevent their gay kids from being gay by rejecting them, by withholding their love and approval and support. What we know now is that you can't prevent a gay kid from being gay. You can only prevent him from being.

If your kid is being bullied — particularly if you or your family is doing the bullying — you need to realize that it won't prevent him from being gay when he grows up. But it could prevent him from growing up at all. LGBT kids are four times likelier to attempt suicide. When family members are hostile or bullying, they're eight times likelier to attempt suicide. Ask yourself: Would you rather go to your gay kid's wedding one day or would you rather go to his funeral next week?

Q: What can we learn from the It Gets Better campaign?

A: That gay kids exist. And that they need our love and our support. And that LGBT adults are not going to stand by and keep silent anymore while LGBT kids are bullied and brutalized in the schools we attended, the suburbs we left behind and the churches where we were told that God hates fags (sometimes it was put more politely, but the message was the same). We're going to talk to LGBT youth whether their parents realize now — you'll thank us one day — that they want us to. The days when accusations of attempting to recruit children into the "gay lifestyle" could silence us are over.

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