It gets better…

You may or may not know Dan Savage (or you may not want to admit that you know him). He writes a sex advice column that runs in many newspapers in the US and Canada. He is also openly gay, and him and his partner (his husband in Canada) have started the It Gets Better Project, which will soon have a Canadian version, supported by Rick Mercer among many other artist.

The project was started because a series of gay teenagers committed suicide after being bullied and harassed by classmates. But the message is aimed at all teenagers who are going through high school wishing they were not born: this is the worse time of your life, but that means it will only get better. And it does. Dan Savage asked adults to record a video to tell teenagers how much better things will get, and tell them to hang in there so they can see the great things life has in store for them. Even Barack Obama recorded a video on the American Website.

This project really struck a cord with me. Like so many others, I was teased and bullied in high school. I was a year younger than everyone else (I skipped a grade), I was immature, and I was a very, very good student. And did I mention I was shy and had very little self-confidence? I didn’t have it worse than countless others. And I never thought of suicide, probably because through all that I had a family that loved me, I had good friends who went through pretty much the same thing with me, I had interests – like music, which allowed me to be part of a band, and the Scouting movement, which gave me a place where I felt like I belonged and fit in. I had my passion of writing, which allowed me to express myself. And I didn’t believe in an afterlife, so I just figured anything was better than not existing. But I was pretty miserable for a while.

Like most people (fortunately), I put up with it and things got better. Back then, I never would have thought that some day I would be married to such a handsome and wonderful man, that I would find a place and a community at the other end of the country, that I would have a job I loved and that I would have two beautiful and healthy children. To be frank, I thought I would never ever find love, because I was such a geek and nobody cared about me. But so many of us feel like that, and yet we all end up with a pretty decent life once we get out of high school. High school is not real life. And things DO get better.

Thanks to Dan Savage for this initiative. And if you are a (relatively) well adjusted adult, take time to talk to that teenager you know who is having a rough time, whether because he’s gay, or otherwise different, or just not cool enough. Let him or her know that you love them, and remind them that their nightmare will not last. They will move on and things will get better. Things will get great. Life is worth it.

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