Dan Savage Launches YouTube Channel To Help LGBT Youth

You may or may not know about Dan Savage. He’s a syndicated sex advice columnist who’s also got more than a bit of political activist in him. The openly gay Savage helped start a movement to expose Senator Rick Santorum, a PA legislator who is…well, he’s just awful.

But now Savage is turning his attention elsewhere: to LGBT Teens.

His new project, launched with his husband Terry, is called “It Gets Better.” It takes the form of a YouTube channel where LGBT adults are asked to upload videos talking about their experiences after high school, in order to encourage LGBT youth that, really, once you’re out of high school, it gets better.

The project was started following the suicide of Indiana teenage Billy Lucas, thought to be caused by the bullying he received at the hands of his classmates, much of which was aimed at his sexual orientation. He was ridiculed, called “gay” and apparently told to go kill himself. Following his suicide, the bullying didn’t end: when a memorial Facebook page was put up, it was vandalized and defaced.

Billy Lucas was not openly homosexual. In fact, we have really no way of knowing what his sexual orientation really was. This bullying was all related to fellow student’s assumptions about him based on ridiculous stereotypes of gender and sexuality.

This is a sad story. Sadder yet: it is not unique. 9 out of 10 LGBT students will be bullied at school. Lesbian, gay and bisexual students are four times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual students. And nearly 1/4 of transgendered people have attempted to take their own lives…and nearly 1/2 of them have had serious thoughts about it. And here’s the kicker: 30% of youth suicide can be attributed to issues involving sexual identity.

And it’s not just outright bullying. Even things like casually using the term “so gay” to describe something that’s bad or unwanted is extremely hurtful. A columnist known as “Dorothy Snarker” on After Ellen said it wonderfully:

Words matter. How you use them matters. It trickles into our subconscious and colors our view of the world. It matters to the gay teen struggling with her identity who feels frightened and alone in this world. It matters to me, it should matter to you.

You can view the It Gets Better YouTube Channel here. And please, do what you can to spread the word. If the internet can be used to make people feel bad and ashamed and hopeless, it can also be used to inspire, to give hope and to reach out. Let’s do that second part.