Book 26 of my 2015 Reading Challenge
read from April 28 - May 20
It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living by Dan Savage
Summary (via Goodreads)
Growing up isn't easy. Many young people endure bullying that makes them feel they have nowhere to turn--especially LGBT kids and teens who often hide their sexuality for fear of being bullied. Without openly gay mentors, they don't know what the future may hold. After a number of suicides by LGBT students who were bullied in school, syndicated columnist Dan Savage uploaded a video to YouTube with his partner, Terry Miller, to inspire hope for LGBT youth. The video launched the 'It Gets Better Project', initiating a worldwide phenomenon. This is a collection of expanded essays and new material from celebrities and everyday people who have posted videos of encouragement, as well as new contributors. We can show LGBT youth the happiness, potential, and positivity their lives will have if they can get through their teen years. "It Gets Better" reminds teenagers in the LGBT community that they are not alone--and it WILL get better.
It makes me very sad that this book was published about 5 years ago and many of the struggles are still the same. Even though the book lacked a little in execution, the concept is one I support fully. Even though the videos are more powerful than the book, the more ways we spread this message, the better.
It was nice to include essays in different languages (with the English translations immediately following), as well as ones from straight allies. There were also a few stories about "self-bullying", which was a different angle as well.
There was a theme that high school will be rough but do your time and it will be over; that's bleak but the Internet has helped so much to avoid isolation and feeling like you're the only one going through it.
Both Gabrielle Rivera and David Sedaris made the point that, gay or straight, your life doesn't automatically become magical when you become an adult. Gabrielle says it doesn't get better but you get stronger, and David says you have to be flexible with your dreams. And Krissy Mahan pointed out that not all gay people have to live in cities or be rich to be happy, and that it gets better but that doesn't mean it's always easy. It's good to have the reminder that every person struggles at some point in their life and ups and downs are a part of life.
The essays that touched me the most were Going Back In by Michael Cunningham and Gunn's Golden Rules by Tim Gunn.
A Few Quotes from the Book
"What a simple and powerful truth. Things get better - things have gotten better, things keep getting better - for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people."
"When you're young...everything feels like the end of the world because you haven't seen how good it can get. By the time you graduate from high school, four out of eighteen years feels like a pretty significant percentage of your life. But four out of forty years, or four out of fifty, or sixty years of amazing-ness is absolutely nothing." ~ A.Y. Daring
"I just want to let you know that it gets better. When you grow up, you realize that you're not alone and that there are lots and lots of people - communities of people just like you - who are willing to embrace you and support you and love you. You just need to hang around and wait for that magic to happen, because life is really great. Even when you're different, life is really a wonderful thing." ~ Chaz Bono
"This is the power behind being gay. At some point, you have to make a decision in your life about who you are and what you're gonna do. A lot of people don't have to do that. They just go through life one step at a time. But when you're gay, you have to make a big choice in your life to be who you were meant to be and to follow your heart. It makes you strong." ~ Jesse Barnes
"No government has the right to tell its citizens when or whom to love. The only queer people are those who don't love anybody." ~ Rita Mae Brown