Last fall, syndicated columnist and author Dan Savage decided he wanted to help after reading numerous stories about gay youths being bullied — some to the point of suicide.
See also: Support your gay child.
Savage and his partner, Terry Miller, set out to create an educational program that they could bring into middle schools and high schools. But when they encountered resistance on the part of educators, they decided to skip the middlemen and go directly to kids.
Savage and Miller created a short video to send the message that, even if life may seem tough right now for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) young people, it does indeed get better. They posted it on YouTube, where it quickly went viral and turned into a worldwide sensation.
Today, more than 10,000 people from all walks of life have made YouTube videos with a similar message for LGBT youth. These videos have been viewed more than 35 million times and have been made by celebrities, activists and politicians, including President Barack Obama, Colin Farrell, Matthew Morrison of Glee, Ellen DeGeneres and Suze Orman, to name just a few.
AARP interviewed Savage about the role people 50 and older played in the project, its relevance to older audiences and other aspects of the project's success.
Q: Why was it important for you and your partner to make your first "It Gets Better" video?
A: We wanted to do something. We didn't want to feel bad about the next LGBT youth suicide we read about. We didn't want to say to ourselves, again, that we wished we had known that kid, we wish we could've spoken to him and told him that it would get better for him the way it got better for us. We wanted to talk to LGBT kids before they harmed themselves. We wanted to give them hope.
Q: What do you think is the biggest misconception about LGBT youth?
A: That they don't exist.