19 November 2010

It Gets Better ... IF

In the wake of the It Gets Better Project, a project that I participated in, there has been a groundswell of people telling LGBTQ kids that It Gets Better. Politicians such as Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Barak Obama have made videos. Public figures such as Cindy McCain and Laura Bush have weighed in. The NoH8 campaign, employees at Facebook and Google, celebrities, and everyday normal people like me have made videos. And over and over again, we tell kids that it gets better - that bullying ends, that many birth families will love you, that you will find a chosen family, that you can be happy.

And I think that matters. But I also think that it matters to acknowledge that those things don't happen automatically.

Conservative estimates suggest that between 20 and 40% of homeless teenagers are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer. In my time at the Local Youth Homeless Shelter, I saw a higher percentage than that. Queer kids' families are not always going to accept them. It's a shitty truth, but it's a truth. Queer kids' classmates and teachers will not always protect them. They will not always be able to attend dances with their partner of choice or have their photos in yearbooks wearing their clothing of choice.

They won't all graduate college and fall in love.

We can't promise them any of that. We want it for them. I got all of that and I am incredibly grateful and lucky and I KNOW that.

But I think that it's disingenuous for us to be promising a better world to queer youth without doing something to help make that world better. Whether that means that we participate in mentoring programs, become foster parents, volunteer at queer youth centers (or any youth centers - queer kids are everywhere), donate food or money, give time or money to suicide prevention hotlines like The Trevor Project, or give time to the agencies that serve homeless youth - we should all be doing something. I should be doing more and I damn well know it.

We don't have to stop telling queer kids that it gets better - I sincerely hope that it does for every one of them. But I do think that we need to do whatever we can to make it more likely that "better" actually happens for any of them.

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