Although I love the concept of the “It gets Better” campaign, I’m not sure that this is enough. While it is far more than the young gays of my generation received in terms of self esteem and a severe blow to isolation and angst riddled days, the time for change is now.
If you are in the throes of feeling alone and unsafe, no one really wants to hear that in five or ten years, things will turn around and you will trump your tormentors with incredible success and world domination.
I work with high school students. They are challenging, brilliant and action oriented. They are every and all things – except patient. Most of my students only understand the here and now. Discussing the future with distracted, peer influenced, hormonal, lovesick teens gives me severe insight regarding the effectiveness of trying to convince them that things will change.
So many years ago, I was not interested in what the future held if I thought it would only be more of the same. Like me, young people often find it difficult getting through the next five minutes.
Being constantly and systematically tortured, individuals want relief now. The young people who committed suicide were unable or unwilling to wait and see if it got better. There was little reason to look towards a brighter future when today, right now, was so incredibly painful.
I was also sold a bill of goods about a magical land where hatred, stupidity and bigotry were not the norm. This magical land would be where I was accepted, understood and most of all loved and valued. I never got to that place. I went to college thinking I would enjoy brilliant minds who could engage and challenge me and not parrot convention regarding sexuality’s expression. Wrong. I moved to Boston, NYC, Japan and finally California (which is not the bastion of liberalism everyone swears it is but more on that later).
My point is that absolutely nothing got better – nothing changed until I got better and I changed. I sought out mentors and people who were free, brave, defiant, and unapologetic. I learned to be afraid and take action anyway. I learned to not sit silently while incredible nonsense was spouted.
In essence, I stopped waiting and fought like hell to commit to loving myself and creating brilliance in the present. I didn’t wait thinking some day these assholes would get it. Instead, I set about creating the best life I could possible create. It has not been easy and I have dated several sociopaths and intimate terrorists and yet I am proud of my commitment to me.
Do we need the message of it gets better? Absofriggin’lutely. Do we need to focus on what can be done right now to make it better wherever we are right now? Absofriggin’lutely.
My plan is simple.
I am developing a mentoring program for gay youth, a blog which will allow thousands of young people to discuss what they need and to know they are not alone and plan on being the number one volunteer at the Trevor Project manning the suicide lines or scrubbing toilets if that’s what’s required. Let’s build our community wherever we are and whenever we can.
No more waiting. Do something now.