Columns Sep 23, 2010 at 4:00 am

Give 'Em Hope


Thank you, Dan -- I love the idea of the It Gets Better Project. It reminds me of Stephen Fry's letter to his younger self, which makes me cry every time I read it:…
Oh, and BTW... Terry's quite the hottie! Good pull there, man.
So Kurt Cobain faked his death and married Dan Savage...who knew?
Excellent, Dan. Just the sort of first-rate reaction I would hope for from you. As someone who lived through incessant bullying for his first 18 years (though not for being gay), I heartily applaud the new channel. Teens DO need to hear from older folk who aren't related to them and have no hidden interests at heart that yes, it does get better with time and you WILL learn to accept yourself and WILL find others like yourself.

This is something that is never said enough to any teenagers, but especially to those ostracized by their peers. Kudos for giving them the support.
Wonderful column, Dan. I'll spread the word about your youtube project!
Dan: As a school administrator, I am going to ensure that our kids know of this, and have access to it. One of the kids I taught, years ago, killed himself. This project has a chance of helping many such kids. thanks!
Dan Savage, I want to kiss you. As a teacher and head of a GSA, I am so happy this exists. The video was wonderfully touching and could make a difference in so many lives. Thank you.
Dan sort of beat (heh) me to it. I say let's declare EVERY day Masturbate to Christine O'Donnell Day. Heck, the minute I found out about her wacko views on masturbation, I went straight to the bedroom, got out my Albolene cream, and jilled off all over the full-length mirror. Granted, I was about to start my period, and orgasms are very therapeutic for relieving cramps and back pain. so I probably would have done it anyway. But this one was extra satisfying.

And anyway, I must admit she is pretty. Maybe we women should mount an e-mail/letter campaign telling Christine how much we'd love to eat her pussy, if only she weren't so hell bent on stopping the whole country from having sex (and good luck with that):…
linking it up on my site, and sharing the video now. Would love to see this played in classrooms across the country...

I posted this to my tumblr ( to support the project. I also want to say that your speeches and videos have really had an impact on how I view relationships and I'd like to thank you. My relationship is honest and fun and GGG due in some part to your ability to succinctly, and with a sense of humour, sum up the issues facing couples in LT relationships.
Sharing and spreading the word about this project as we speak. Thank you so much for the idea, and I can't wait to see where this goes. I too would love to see this as part of the curriculum in schools across the country.

I applaud your project. I know it was prompted by a particular horrific case of homophobic bullying, but I think it would be great to expand this to address all the freaks, geeks, losers, fags, bitches, sluts, and lowlife who are made to feel like their life will never get better. They all need to hear the message. That it does get better, and really soon! Two or three years until you're a legal adult, can move away from that bullshit and see how fantastic life can be!

I applaud your project. I know it was prompted by a particular horrific case of homophobic bullying, but I think it would be great to expand this to address all the freaks, geeks, losers, fags, bitches, sluts, and lowlife who are made to feel like their life will never get better. They all need to hear the message. That it does get better, and really soon! Two or three years until you're a legal adult, can move away from that bullshit and see how fantastic life can be!
I know you'll get plenty of accolades for this, but I'd just like to say that this column gave me chills. Way to use your powers for good, Dan...
This channel will be pimped as far and wide as I can possibly pimp it. Thank you, Dan, for starting this, because this will save lives.
Thank you for sharing the story of Billy Lucas. It made me cry and now I am angry as hell. Is there anyway that those who bullied him can be tried for manslaughter or something? Anything to make people see that bullying behavior will not be condoned. Bullies are cowards!
Thank you so much for this Dan and Terry.

I'll be doing my part to ensure that this message gets broadcast far and wide by sending the link to everyone in my contact list. If anyone knows of somebody in a similar situation, please direct them to Dan & Terry's channel. Let them know that it really does get better and that hope and help are out there.

Take good care all. Peace.
Wow, I am completely impressed, Dan. After you posted that awful story, I think so many of us wondered what could have been done to help, if we had known a kid like Billy Lucas. Your video project idea is brilliant, and hopefully will go viral. For all the joking on Slog, it's good to take a moment to let you know (again) what a real difference you have made to so many people. Raising my glass to you right now. Cheers.
dan, you just get more awesome. this is a wonderful project. thank you.
That was amazing. I'm not gay, or bi, or trans, so I haven't much to contribute in the way of a video, but I'll definitely be posting this to my Facebook to help spread the word.
Great idea! This is a great help and something I wish I had been able to see in my teens. Thanks a lot for sharing and I hope this catches on and spreads far and wide.
Forgot to add something..

Although meant for young gay teens, this is fantastic for everybody who is or has ever been bullied and picked on. And what can us straight people do to get involved?
Word = spread, indeed. Consider it done.

And your spouse is definitely a hottie...kudos on all fronts, Dan.
Thank-you for the video Dan! Very inspiring!
God or Spirit or Universe (or whatever you believe in) bless you, Dan. The message of your "It Gets Better" project will save kids' lives. You'll save kids' lives.
The video and YT channel was a wonderful and loving idea. Thanks to you and Terry both for telling your stories. I hope the kids that need to see this do, and they can feel hope and love and then find the strength to make it through the hell of high school.
How is it, Dan, that you literally seem to shit pure gold? Whatsoever you tackle, you do it with a stunning balance of outrage and humor. I cried reading the article and smiled at the stories of your, Terry, and DJ's life together. Thanks, again and again and again.
What do you think about the most recent gay-bashing minister outed? The media is all over Eddie Long for 'enticing' two boys to have sex. This gives all LGBT people such a bad name. "All gay men are predators." Is there anything we can do?
I'm straight but I was bullied so mercilessly in high school I developed BDD (body dysmorphic disorder). Can we straight people give encouragement to the other bullied and otherwise miserable youth with your project?
Such a great idea! I hope it catches on and becomes widely known!

And your video was wonderful and wonderfully surreal! I actually - FINALLY - just read both "The Commitment" and "The Kid" with in the last month, so it was awesome to actually get to see the two main characters interact! Wow! Thank you both so much for sharing!

Also, I will never understand why so many ridiculously photogenic people are camera-shy! And the way you watch Terry talk is heart-meltingly cute, Dan. Had to say it.
Dan, you are one of my personal heroes and one of my favorite authors. I can't tell you how much I appreciate your books, columns, and other projects. That youtube video made me respect you even more (didn't know that was possible!). I have become so much more comfortable with my sexuality through reading your work, actually learning it does get better after high school, and looking to positive role models for people like me who do not fit into the cookie cutter mold of what sexuality is "supposed" to look like in the U.S. Thanks!!
Dan, you are one of my personal heroes and one of my favorite authors. I can't tell you how much I appreciate your books, columns, and other projects. That youtube video made me respect you even more (didn't know that was possible!). I have become so much more comfortable with my sexuality through reading your work, actually learning it does get better after high school, and looking to positive role models for people like me who do not fit into the cookie cutter mold of what sexuality is "supposed" to look like in the U.S. Thanks!!
@2: I know!! I was gonna comment on that on the youtube page, but thought that ought to be the arena for respectful and hopeful messages. But I guess "you could end up with someone as smokin' as Terry" is a pretty hopeful message ;)

Wonderful idea Dan, and you can bet I'll be making a video. I wasn't bullied nearly as much as this boy must have been, but damnit, if I can make just one tiny bit of difference....

Unfortunately, I can't quite bring myself to masturbate to Christine O'Donnell, as she makes my lesbian-boner run away in horror D= I would if I could, but I can't.

Keep it up Dan, you're my hero.
I was very moved by the video, I admit it.

But on the other hand, there's a certain percentage of kids viewing it that you can't help making false promises to: some gay kids are simply not going to grow up to have lives like yours. Some kids' families aren't going to accept them the way yours have; some kids are not going to end up with long-term partners (much less hot ones!); some kids aren't going to be taking vacations to Paris (or, for that matter, afford surrogate motherhood to become parents themselves).

It's certainly true that a lot of kids are really going to benefit from this video. Someday, though, you're going to hear from or about some viewers who will grow up to be disappointed and depressed when they never realize the idealized, and very lucky, model of gay life that you're presenting here. It would be more honest of you to say that, too.
I think the point they are getting across is that there is hope, not that everyone's life will turn out exactly like theirs. The goal is to help extremely depressed/ suicidal adolescents make it through junior high/high school. I am pretty sure that kids who watch that video won't be like, "Wow, Dan promised that I will find an attractive, loving life partner and live happily ever after" and get upset when that doesn't pan out. Kids are a lot smarter than people give them credit for. The message is clear and will do much more good than bad.
Hey Dan, Stranger copy editors, and fellow readers.

It is currently not known if Billy was gay. We may never know. It may not matter to some people, but it seems the family may have feelings about this. See the FaceBook tab under "Discussions". So few facts are known. It's possible he was gay and the family did not support him when he was alive and desires to hide it after his death. That would be extra horrific if it was true.

Here is the best news I could find so far:…

There's nothing on this in the Chicago Tribune or most media websites as of Sept 22nd, 13 days after his death.

It's horrible Billy is gone. He had been suspended from school that day for an attempt to stop those with a long history of bullying him. Being called gay was part of the abuse.

I'm a teacher and I've asked Dan back in 2005 to write a book for gay teens in schools. I got in trouble for sending a kid to the office every time he used "gay". I'd make a youtube video but Dan's request is only for people who are gay.…

ps: As another teacher said, youtube is blocked in most schools.
Definitely a "happily ever after" story for you and Terry (whom, I might add, is GORGEOUS). I hope that some of the anti-gay-marriage Republican types stumble across this video, too. I can't imagine anyone with a spouse and kid(s) watching it and not being able to understand that you are two wonderful fathers who love each other deeply and deserve the same rights that they have.
I was a straight but weird kid who was bullied. "It gets better" is a message everyone needs to hear. High school ends and you will find a community and friends you can connect with and who will accept and love you for who you are.

@37: you are missing the point - Dan may have a very nice life, but even without all those good things that Dan has you will still escape the horrors of high school and find a life worth living.
I teared up listening to you talk about your experience in Paris with your little boy. Reaching out like this is SO important. I'll send this link to everyone I know.
Great idea Dan (and ridiculously wholesome looking family, by the way). I'd like to echo several comments above saying that this kind of message could benefit all sorts of kids.

I can't contribute, being a straight female. But as a former victim of bullying I would love to tell the young victims of today, gay or straight, that it does get better, and that even if it feels eternal, the dark days of high school are over in a flash. Please do tell us if you decide to open the project up to more people, though I do understand your motivation for targetting GLBTQ teens especially.

Wonderful to do that video!!! God bless you for it and may it be the catapult to something big and to save many, many young men and womens lives.
What an adorable couple you guys are! And what a touching, wonderful gift to give those young people who are struggling! Thank you for your wisdom and generosity!
I am not gay but was bullied all through middle school and high school and even at times in college. I am still bullied occasionally today at the office (I am 25). I have not found "a community of friends I can connect with and that will love me for who I am." It is at times difficult to see how it will get any better.
@39- youtube may be blocked from the schools' hardlines, but they can't block the kids phones.

oh, and.... holy smoking hot terry.
and @37- dan and terry didn't finance a "surrogate mother," they had an open adoption, there's a big difference.
I spent Jr and Sr year of High School at a prep school (as a boarder). They kept drilling into us the myth that these were the best years of our lives, that the friendships we made there would be the most important of our lives. As one of the major outcasts, I remember thinking that if I believed that shit, I would kill myself because I didn't think I could stand living if things were just going to go downhill. College was such a blessing. There was a moment in grad school when it came to me that if someone told me life couldn't get any better, I would be content, because I couldn't imagine every being happier than I was then.
@46: Seek out your community. Go to and search for something that interests you. You have compatriots. It gets better. You only have to look for what you need. In the world today, no one needs to be isolated. But believe me, I know how hard it is to take that step. I REALLY really know.
Dan Savage at his best. Yea!
Could you also create a regular web page that students in schools where "social networking" sites like YouTube and Facebook are blocked could access? Open it up to any adult who was bullied in school, and let contributors post written messages of support. You'll widen both the range of contributors and your potential audience.
I just shared that on my facebook page. Now I need to go blow my nose and dry my face, 'cause I'm bawling my eyes out.
Great video. Beautiful family.
If it happened a couple of years ago and it's only been two months with the new guy.. JUST BE HONEST. COME CLEAN. DROP THE HORSES***E. Honesty always rings best. Good luck to you Mr. Threesome;)!+~+
I love this project idea - the girlfriend and I are making a video tomorrow night for this as part of celebrating our four year anniversary together. Maybe we'll make another video too... =)
I just saw the video and I had to wipe a few tears. I am female and heterosexual but I was nonetheless picked up at schoool (nerd type, tiny, always reading, talked differently...) Thirty years later I am an Ob-gyn working in my dream place, married and happy, and still reading like mad. I would have needed a video like that when I was a child, too. The project can be useful for other bullied kids besides gays, too.
amazing video... I'm in my cubicle trying to weep silently... and I just sent it to my boyfriend of 8 months...
Someone posted they aren't gay, bi, or trans and can't do a video but will add the link to their facebook. Why can't you do a video? You can talk about how you viewed people who were different when you were younger. Experineces in school about bullying and the use of slurs. How things have changed since you have gotten older. And more importantly how you accept people for who they are. It's great to have people "like me" to be a role model but it's also great to know that there are so many people who are supportive as well. Teens need to understand that outside of their smaller world there is a larger world where they are accepted and loved.
I think this is the best thing you've ever done, Dan. This will save lives!
dan, that video was really touching. thank you
My husband's brother and sister in law are the worst kind of fundamentalist "Christians." They have six kids by now, and show no signs of stopping. We have been told to our faces that we were not named godparents for any of them because of our association with gay people. So, I figure, statistically speaking, they're bound to end up with at least one gay kid. (To say nothing of karma!) I'm going to save your video for when that happens, and my husband and I have to step in and play the role of supportive adults during the drama that will undoubtedly ensue...
Shared on my FB page. How you smile at Terry is the cutest thing, Dan. Thanks to you both for doing this.
Thank you, Dan, for recognizing in your column that people like Tony Perkins don't speak for all, or even most, Christians. Many Christians don't feel the bible prohibits homosexuality in contemporary society at all. An even larger group, ambivalent on what the bible says about homosexuality, remembers that Jesus specifically told his followers that they are not be judging people, that they are not authorized to enforce their understanding of God's law on anyone else, and that they are commanded to love and respect others.

So thanks for remembering that we're here, and brainstorming regularly how to marginalize the Perkins, Becks, and Grahams of the world.
Just make it a foursome, dude!
I mean, if threesomes are morally wrong, then surely all us gays will burn in hell. ...
No, wait! ... That's exactly what they said we would do! ...
Oh, the video made me cry hopeful tears. Thank you for this positive, moving response to a tragedy that happens far too often.
This is such a brilliant idea. Good work.
If this goes viral, and I'm hoping it does, there is equal chance the right wing people will create more mockery of gays. They will say the gay community created a poster child for a straight kid.

Screw the haters. Dan has never lost any debate with them. Everyone should just be aware of this so the hate message can be fought.

The boy hung himself, and verbal abuse about being gay was directly related. Many neighborhoods are so biased against gays that even a straight kid is pushed to suicide for being labeled "gay".…

Don't give the haters any more fuel for their fire. Don't label the kid gay until more info comes out. Do support any effort like this to create more systematic supports.

Can someone creating a video add the 800 phone numbe? 800-273-TALK Here is the FAQ on the teen website.
Another suicide hotline for gay or questioning youth

(866) 4-U-TREVOR
(866) 488-7386
Dan, this is so awesome. I just posted on my Facebook page. You and Terry are so adorable!
Masturbate to Christine O'Donnell? I'd sooner jack off to Larry Craig, and I'd sooner die than do that!

I will, however, most likely be jackin' it to Dan & Terry later tonight, speakinna threesomes.
Hi Dan: I just posted this on my FB page. Really awesome project. You and Terry are adorable!
Bi woman here (mostly into girls, really) and I never went to school to be bullied, but I got a fair bit of bullying and maltreatment from family growing up, wound up with a truly shitty body image for a very long time, which I'm growing out of, and they're still trying very hard to stuff me back in the closet.

My girlfriend and I (both avid readers of your column and your blog) both own accounts on a blogging site called Dreamwidth, and we've just been inspired to start up a community there with the same name as your project, with links to the videos and to your column as primary resources and inspiration. It's a small site, but it has a very high proportion of GLBTQ account owners, and I'm sure we can get something meaningful going with this.

Here's the link:

Thank you so much, Dan, for reaching out to a silent majority like this. I heard the "you're too young to know you're bi!" at the ripe old age of 18 (although I make allowances for growing up in a village in India) and I'm sure kids who come out earlier have that even worse - to have the community reach out to them in a caring, inclusive way will make a lot of difference to them.
I am an educator as well, and I can't wait to get home to see the vid, as yes, facebook is blocked here. Yeah, Savage Love pops right through with all its piss and shit stained glory, but go on and stop that youtube *rolls eyes* Lol!

I am a straight girl as well, and totally agree with the other posters about how bullying can be so pervasive in schools, regardless of reasons (I grew up fat), and if indeed, my "Golden Years" of high school were indeed my best, I would have offed myself for sure! When I think of people who truly have their glory days in high school, I think of Al Bundy. Thank goodness for college...I am sure teen viewers can modify content in their minds to suit their needs. Can't wait to see Dan's hot hubby!
This was a great post, but my only beef is that it hasn't been established that Billy Lucas was gay. He may very well have been, but he also might not have been. The horrible treatment that the poor kid experienced qualifies as anti-gay bullying, but that doesn't mean he actually was gay.
Excellent idea. Truly excellent and great use of this platform you have toward postive ends. I have some friends who I'll be sharing this with in the hopes that they will post videos too.

I'm not always your biggest fan, but today, I most certainly am.

My best friend in junior high (also in Spokane) killed himself a year after I moved away, for what I suspect was reasons similar to Billy Lucas. Watching you and Terry together makes me incredibly sad to know that my dear friend missed out on what would surely have been an amazingly good life.

Much good fortune and happiness to you and your family.

You two are so beautiful. Wonderful video.
Hey, Dan. Did you get the idea for the "it gets better project" from this comment?

[found here:…]

I think we're at a point where it's evident that school districts (some, not all) are just NOT going to accept it. Instead of waiting around for them to do it, it may be time for LGBTA folks to go to them, especially in some of the "redder" parts of this country.

It would be nice to see people organizing around this issue – the school won't stop bullying? Unacceptable, but probably not changeable either, so how can it be countered? Perhaps with LGBTA mentoring or something similar.

I hate that this is happening and more I hate that it's being ignored, but it seems that the timeline for social change here is a long one, in the meantime, I hope some quicker, but no less powerful, actions can be taken.
I posted it on my yoga blog here in Toronto to spread the word.
It does get better.
I am going to post a video.
David Good
Signal boosted.…

The video made me cry.
As a straight girl with an MA in Film I'm going to help out by reaching out to my gay friends and letting them know if they need help making the video I'm there. I've already posted it on fb.
Your husband's mouth isn't just pretty, it is gorgeous.
Some people have said that we don't know if Billy Lucas was gay. Fact is, doesn't matter. He was bullied to death by derogatory language and hateful slurs because people THOUGHT he was gay. As it turns out, the biggest reason kids who commit school shootings do it is because they were bullied, and the most common taunt is being called gay. Next time this happens, it might not be just the bullied kid who gets hurt.

Thank you thank you thank you. I cried.
Well done, Dan and Terry. The kids need this. I added it to my own little blog:
When Barney Frank would make the list of 5 hottest liberal chicks, I guess you have no choice but to jerk off to conservatives. What are you chronic bed-wetters going to do when she wins? Let me guess. Call her stupid and racist? Shocker.
Brilliant idea. I look forward to sharing this video with my own children and friends. Thank you for using your success to help the hurting youth amongst us.
Thank you Dan and Terry. Thank you.
I read your column and listen to your podcast regularly, perhaps obsessively and while there have been many times I've been left thinking about it long after reading/listening, this is by far the most jossled I've felt. I've been sending everyone to read about this and watch your video. I'm not gay, but I did grow up in a very small town where being even a little different was definitely not ok. And I was more than just a little different. :) After high school I moved in to a larger city and everything was sooooo much better. Thank you for using your popularity and influence for good. I met you at the DJ battle recently and was blown away by how real you were (I was the short haired girl who told you about how you got me to DTMFA and found the man of my dreams, the one who can auto fellate, remember?) Anyway, thank you, for this, and everything else you do!
A. GREAT video....I'm a high school teacher.....I hope I can get away with showing this to my students.....We both know some of them are living through what you described.

B. You and your column got FREE national air time today on one of the Wingnut spew-shows on radio!!! All about your Christine Zero comments.
You made the Times today:…

Great idea. Please keep it up.
It Gets Better is an awesome solution to a persistent problem. Nice work. I'll bet you save more than one life!
I’m gay, and I was bullied when I was in grade 9. My two tormentors were relentless. Everyday after school, no matter how quickly I ran to my locker and ran out of the building, no matter which exit I took, they found me. They followed me for blocks calling me every homophobic name in the book. I wasn’t out, and was still pretty confused about my sexual orientation, but these guys seemed to know. The one time I stood up to one of them it ended with him pinning me to a locker – I couldn’t even move, never mind break-free from his grip(never mind getting a punch in). It reached the point where I wanted to kill myself, and I came pretty close. I’m lucky I have a loving family who helped me deal with the bullying. If it wasn’t for the support of my family I probably would have committed suicide.

I struggled for years with my sexual orientation, but somehow I survived. And things did get better… much better… better than I could ever have imagined when I was 14. I’m in a relationship with a man I love (five year anniversary is coming up), I’m out to my family, and they support me, and I’m comfortable in my own skin.

BUT, and it’s a big but, if a gay person had been there for me when I was 14 with advice, support, and a different perspective, it would have made a huge difference. If you have a camera, seriously consider making a video for Dan's site.
Dan, thanks for launching the "It Gets Better" project.

My son began to be subjected to anti-gay bullying when he was in second grade. We pulled him out of that school when it was clear that the administration wasn't going to do anything about it. Three years later, in 5th grade, it started again. Fortunately, we found a middle school/high school that is an open, welcoming community that has made it clear that it doesn't tolerate bullying.

Wonderful idea, Dan. Going to spread the word.
Picking up on 83's comment: Yes, not all kids who are subjected to anti-gay bullying are gay.

The school administrators who respond with "We have to be nice to the gay kids" are getting it wrong.

We have to stop the bullying.

#1 Christine O'Donnell is a fucking looneybird.

#2 Dan, thank you and Terry from the bottom of my heart. I think this project can really take off and make a difference in how schools approach bullying and the bullied.
As a teenager I was mercilessy bullied for being fat. I was 5'6" and 155 pounds, but was taunted endlessly about being a fatass, worthless piece of shit. Nobody stuck up for me. There was nobody with a message for me, other than my mom and dad who simply told me to ignore them. The teachers and principal disciplined me for sticking up for myself because I was causing a scene. It was ridiculous.
I made it through. I live well, I work in my community for awareness and self-acceptance, and that truly is the best revenge.

Actually, revenge isn't a good word for what i do, because it is with no malice. Living well, and reaching out is my way of stopping the cycle of abuse, and empowering victims of bullying and/or self-loathing.
To everyone who's suggesting Dan do things to include lots of other groups of people - you've had a great idea, so why don't you make it happen yourself? It doesn't all have to be down to one person. Every single one of us can make a difference. So don't wait for someone else to do it!
It Gets Better: Dan, what an inspiration your and Terry's video is. I googled "it gets better" and your clip is currently the third one to come up. I'll try to google it on a regular basis to keep it high on the list. (Oh, and congrats--Terry is totally hot!)
Christine O'Donnell Masturbation Day: ROTFLMAO! I have to admit to mixed feelings on this one, if only because she is not a person I want to associate with masturbation. However, knowing how distasteful she and her supporters would find the idea, I'll power up the vibrator in celebration...
Could there be a corollary channel for those that are currently involved in bullying? "It Gets Worse" -
"That shame you secretly feel each night for the terrible things you've said & done to some vulnerable kid that day? It gets worse as you get older. It leads to self-loathing, bitterness and isolation. The only way to get rid of it is to stop the meanness while you still can. You don't have to stand up for the bullied kid just yet (you'll want to later), but you do need to quit making the problem worse. Hate can be addictive and is always destructive."

I'd say a lot of the bullying that goes on has a certain pack mentality behind it. Many of the tormentors may be mere bandwagoneers, but are afraid to jump ship for fear of the same fate as their current target. Letting those kids know that it is OK not to hate could be a very useful message too.
Gold star for the It Gets Better campaign, Dan. You are one of those people who constantly restores my faith in humanity. All the best to you and Terry.

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