Mighty Life List
Jan 25 2012

It Gets Better: California College of the Arts

Hi team, my friend Clay Walsh is in this video from the California College of the Arts — it’s part of the It Gets Better Project, which is about helping prevent suicide among gay teens.

I don’t recall being taught anything in particular about homosexuality growing up, but my family comes from a conservative Christian background, and I do remember being uncomfortable the first time I saw two men kissing in college. That reaction was me being afraid of the unknown, and I realized pretty quickly that my discomfort was mostly a product of confusion.

So, two things:

1. If you like me, one of the things I’d like you to know about me is that I don’t think there’s anything weird about being gay, or bi, or trans.

2. If you’re a straight or gay person who’s uncomfortable with the idea of homosexuality, please scroll through these videos until you find a thumbnail of someone who looks average to you — maybe someone who looks like you or your best friend — and press play.

That’s it. Maybe I’m preaching to the choir here, but what the heck. We’re pretty sheltered in San Francisco*, and it’s easy for me to forget that gay kids elsewhere are hurting. Hi, guys. We see you hurting. Everything will be ok.

(* Update: Didn’t mean to be confusing here. What I mean is that people in San Francisco tend to think similarly when it comes to social issues. As someone says in the video, if you’re a homophobe here, you’re the one who needs to be in the closet. In my experience, people recoil and actively call someone out if they use words like “fag,” and will not date you or otherwise engage with you socially. When I say we’re sheltered, I mean it can be shocking to travel to places where homophobic tendencies are tolerated or even prevalent, and so it becomes easy to forget how bad it can be elsewhere. Does that make more sense?)

21 Responses to “It Gets Better: California College of the Arts”

  • Nie Says:

    <>

    Or, it won’t – which is why these videos and this post are important. For too many, it doesn’t get to be ok.

  • Daffodil Campbell Says:

    Thanks for sharing this project, Maggie. I love these films, I am so glad to see this project. The one from Lucasfilms employees is my favorite, I think, because it shows friends and families supporting each other while sharing their stories. Love.

  • Jeanine Says:

    Thanks so much for this post, Maggie. Passing on the link now…

  • Margot Says:

    Gahhh. There should be a “may make you cry!” acronym. MMYC? How’s that.

    So we’re clear, happy tears.

  • Stephanie Says:

    Sadly, as open as San Francisco is, there are still teens who do not feel comfortable in their own skin and people who do not embrace all San Franciscans. It is so important to share these videos. Thank you.

  • victoria Says:

    awesome post, maggie. way to go. and yay for clay!

  • Carla Goodrich Says:

    woah! WOAH! woooooaaaahhhh! Yeah, you said ‘sheltered in San Fran’ hahahaha! In the midwest we believe you are a livin’ it ‘out’ sista!!! We must be totally ‘corseted’ then, yes??!! I am originally from LA many moons ago…but, BUT, yeah, like I tell my kids at school…there is always a BIG (ass) BUTT! involved or in the way…please, we really truly in the good ol’ USA thought San Fran was livin’ up to the ‘rainbow family’ as ‘one’ as a ‘whole’ and as a ‘I have two dads or moms’ so…Modern Family evolved…this is shocking to me. :( boo me…but really please share how you came up w/sheltered…:) keep on keepin’ on :) Love your blog and your writing and your inspiration and your choices in bourbon and of course, YOU!!!

    love,
    CARLA

  • christine e-e Says:

    awesome post! I feel like I “scored” a resource for the youth in our county. Plan to share this …. thanks.

  • Amy Says:

    One of my middle school students publicly (and awkwardly) came out the other day. (I’m so proud! That takes a lot of guts.) I wonder if it would cross any lines for me to share these videos with the kid?

  • Steph Says:

    I can’t get it to play!!!

  • Joanne Says:

    Sheltered in San Fran? What? My first visit to San Fran I didn’t even realize what all the rainbows were about.

  • Corve Says:

    It does get better.

  • cec Says:

    oh nice! that’s where i studied. some of those folks were my teachers.

  • heather Says:

    ‘it gets better’ got conversations started, but it cannot be the whole message: http://community.feministing.com/2011/10/23/why-it-gets-better-is-not-enough/

  • Rachel Says:

    Thank you Maggie for posting this.
    And let me just share personally with whatever young LGBT person is reading this: it does get better, much better and there are many, many people out there to whom you are absolutely precious, no matter what anyone is telling you. I’m a lesbian, married to an incredible woman, with a wonderful five year old son, who is right around the same age as Maggie’s son Hank. And this can and will be you too.

    But for your straight readers I wanted to make another point: my son is most likely straight, as are most of the children being raised by same-sex parents. Yet these kids experience not just social prejudice, but also real economic inequity in terms of lack of health insurance, social security, tax benefits, etc. that their counterparts with heterosexual parents take for granted. So homophobia affects straight people too, and distorts their lives as well. Equal marriage and same-sex adoption laws occur when our supportive straight allies understand that this is a key civil rights issue. We’ve achieved all that, but not federal tax benefits – the real issue – here in NY, but many, many families don’t even have those protections in other states. So even if you’re still grappling with homophobia – and not supporting full equality qualifies as exactly that – please open your mind and your hearts so all our kids can have a fair shake.

  • Sassafras Mama Says:

    I’m an out teacher at a school with a climate that is tolerant, careful, and safe. I’m very proud of that and know that it comes from a lot of hard work on the part of the community. My students – queer and straight – love these videos because of the connection they feel to a larger, tolerant world.

    I’m one of the lucky ones for whom being gay was always okay. And I’ll forever be grateful to my family for making it that way.

    Thanks for giving me a chance to share, Maggie.

  • misstraceynolan Says:

    What you say about San Fran rings true for me in Toronto. My fella always has to remind me that we live in a bit of a liberal bubble and when we drive 90 minutes and visit his hometown things are VERY different. It’s good to be reminded that the fight isn’t over yet. I really do forget sometimes.

  • Carla Says:

    I watched the movie The Long Walk Home again a couple of days ago. If you haven’t seen it, the movie dramatizes the bus boycott of 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama. It also personalizes the struggle in portraying the relationship between a white housewife (Sissy Spacek) and the black maid (Whoopi Goldberg) she employs. I guess the point I’m making is how frequently I squirmed and was outraged by the demeaning treatment of blacks by whites, which is really no different from how GLBT’s are marginalized and mistreated today. Racism certainly hasn’t been eradicated in our society, but so much progress has been made. I’m so grateful for how It Gets Better has moved this issue forward and hope for the day when it is no longer necessary.

  • ehret Says:

    What a heart-achingly important and beautiful video. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Smedette Says:

    Thanks for sharing these, Maggie. They are so important.

    (I’m from Portland, Oregon and now live in the South. I totally get your “sheltered” reference).

  • Colleen Says:

    Nice. I think it goes beyond sexual orientation, though. We’re all confused and uncomfortable about many things in life. The message is universal, “Follow your heart, and have faith in yourself.” Knowing and following your own strengths gives others permission to be pursue theirs.