A tragic series of suicides has put the spotlight on bullying and other forms of peer abuse of kids and teenagers. It has also prompted the It Gets Better project on YouTube from columnist Dan Savage and his partner Terry Miller, who have posted a video telling LGBT teens who are getting picked on that it will get better for them and that support and resources are available. They have invited others to participate and the videos from celebrities like Tim Gunn and Ellen DeGeneres as well as individuals who just want to share their stories and their support are extraordinarily generous, touching, inspiring, and meaningful. The Trevor Project is a hotline for LGBT kids who need someone to talk to. On its website are messages of help and hope from “Glee’s” Chris Colfer and “Harry Potter’s” Daniel Radcliffe.
Today is National Coming Out Day and everyone can participate by coming out for dignity, equality, and rejoicing in the diversity of ideas, perspectives, talents, and beliefs that unite us as humans as much as our shared commitments and experiences.
Vince Vaughn has just agreed to take a gay joke out of the trailer of his new film, “Dilemma.” It is not clear whether it will remain in the film. What’s interesting is that even the the brief clip, the joke is explicitly not related to any person’s sexuality — it is a reference to an electric car. Vaughn’s character makes it clear that he is using “gay” not to mean homosexual but to mean overly careful and concerned about one’s impact on the rest of the world — while in this movie as in others the “bromance” element is more likely to read as gay to the audience. While publications like The Globe and Mail decry Vaughn’s backing down (they might say it is “so gay” to worry about the sensitivity of the audience in making a crude, dumb joke), it seems to me that this is on the contrary a triumph of freedom of speech. After Anderson Cooper and others responded to the trailer with their objections, Vaughn made the decision that the joke was creating more problems than it was worth. I am hoping Vaughn’s experience will help make it clear to impressionable teens that “that’s so gay” and “no homo” references cannot be separated from their bigoted foundation.
I was also very encouraged by the wonderful “no makeup Tuesday” program at a Texas high school, a powerful message of acceptance and the recognition of true beauty. I’d love to see it go nationwide.
I’d love to hear your ideas and experiences to prevent bullying and harassment and build support in your community.