The Conversation: The 'It Gets Better' Project

Columnist Dan Savage talks about his project to help gay youth.

ByABC News
September 30, 2010, 7:18 AM

Sept. 30, 2010— -- When a Rutgers University student killed himself after his sexual encounter with another boy was broadcast online by his college roommate, he joined a growing list of gay suicides in recent months.

Rutgers student Tyler Clementi apparently jumped to his death from a New York City bridge after his privacy was compromised online, and earlier this week, a Houston teen was also driven to commit suicide after enduring anti-gay bullying in school.

Gay kids are four times more likely that straight kids to commit suicide, according to a recent study, and nine out of 10 gay kids report being bullied.

"Hearing about these kids that have committed suicide, the reaction as a gay adult is always, 'God, I wish I could have talked to them for fifteen minutes or five minutes and told them it gets better,'" said gay columnist Dan Savage.

In an effort to counter the despair and isolation that many young gay people feel, Savage has launched a YouTube channel to provide positive examples of gay adults living their lives and sharing that simple message -- it gets better.

"It occurred to me that we can talk to these kids now," Savage said. "We don't have to wait for an invitation or permission to reach out to them using social media and YouTube."

Savage's first video, recorded with his husband Terry, has had over 200,000 views on YouTube.

In the couple's video, Terry talks about enduring severe bullying as a teenager, recalling being beaten up, thrown against lockers and stuffed into bathroom stalls in his school.

"Sometimes in big urban centers and in media centers, we get the impression that things are universally great everywhere," Savage said. While things may be getting better in big cities, he added, "they're getting worse in small towns and rural areas. We've had fifteen years' worth of an aggressive campaign by the religious right to demonize and stigmatize gay people."

Dan Savage spoke to ABC's Jeremy Hubbard for a Conversation about his new project. We hope you'll watch.

Click here to visit the "It Gets Better" YouTube Channel.

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