I'm feeling blown away, thinking about what could have been had the Internet existed when I was a teenager struggling with my sexuality. I received an email today that provided a link to the It Gets Better project, a series of YouTube videos by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people, giving youth the message that suicide is not the answer while acknowledging that high school may be the most brutal time for LGBT youth.
If only I'd known another gay person. If not in person, then through television or other media. I struggled in dealing with the slurs spit upon me when I was confused as to my identity. How could they be so sure when I hadn't figured things out myself? And how could they be so hateful, these Southern Baptists who beliefs represented the only road to salvation and, ultimately, heaven? Two peers in high school committed suicide and it saddens me that I can't even recall the name of one of them. Were they struggling with their sexuality? At the time, that possibility never occurred to me. I was the only possibly gay person in the county. According to the peers and adults around me, if I lived a gay life, I'd be a sinner, a pedophile, a pariah. There would be nothing redeeming in me.
As I watched the testimonies from Dan Savage and his partner, from Perez Hilton, from the transgendered man from Hawaii, from the friend of the transgendered teen who killed himself before the project ever launched, tears streamed down my cheeks. If only someone had told me I was worthwhile. If only someone had let me know that he'd felt despair every day of his high school existence. If only I'd known I was not alone.
Thank you, Dan Savage, for launching this project after hearing about the suicide of 15-year-old Billy Lucas earlier this month. There are youth in rural and urban areas who need to know that there is hope, that The Now will not be The Always. Adolescence is inherently awkward, dramatic and, oftentimes, painful. When you are coming to terms with your sexual identity, it can seem utterly unbearable. But it does get better. Not in a day, in a week or a month,...but over time and once freed from the social caste system of high school. It's unfortunate that Better is still something so many have to wait for, but it's affirming to hear that it will indeed come.