Saturday, May 19, 2012

Dan Savage and partner publishes life-saving book, inspires youth

It is amazing how something can randomly catch your attention.
A few weeks ago, I was standing at the computer lab in my University’s library when, while waiting for a PDF to download, I browsed the “popular books” section where the University displays the new books they have received. One in particular caught my eye and a flash back appeared when that same book was at a Borders 50% off sale and it still wasn’t cheap enough for me to buy. What book was is, you ask? “It Gets Better” which was edited by Dan Savage and Terry Miller.
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I’ve been drawn to the “It Gets Better” project and have watched countless videos from celebrities, youtubers, and strangers. The project is an inspiring one and watching all of those videos made me realize that I was never truly alone and that there are hundreds of us out there living gay and okay lives.
However, the book did bring up some memories for me as a straight ally in a huge high school where sitting with the gay kids meant that you got orange juice and milk cartons thrown at you daily. Till this day, I still have a twinkling of remorse whenever I hear one of our torturer’s names.
The book, edited by the amazing Dan Savage and his husband, Terry Miller, has countless letters from politicians, religious leaders, social workers, high school kids, college kids, celebrities, etc talking about the rough times, the good times, and the much better times of being a LGBTQ person of society.
What I enjoyed most about the book was sense of reality because sometimes, things do not get better but they also do not get worse. A passage from Gabrielle Rivera was absolutely riveting to me because Gabrielle starts out her letter with “as a gay woman of color, I just want to let the youth know that it kind of doesn’t get better.” (45) However, Rivera follows with “you get stronger.” Rivera does a good job at pointing out that the straight and upper-class celebrities that tell youth that it does get better, really have no idea what they are talking about because some of them have never been in a bullied child’s “shoes” so-to-speak. I love the reality of her passage because yes, it does get better for some people but some people do not have the resources to make life better but although things do not get better for them, they gain strength from the experience.
I especially loved the letters from religious leaders. One in particular by Bishop Gene Robinson, was especially inspiring considering all the hateful messages religious leaders can have towards the queer community. Robinson wrote, “”It gets better, I promise. And it is getting better all the time. Things are changing. So if you’re considering hurting yourself, please don’t. God wants you to live…so hang in there. Be strong. And know that despite the messages you get…God loves you beyond your wildest imagining and only wants the best for you.” (31). Robinson is the first openly gay male to hold the position of Bishop of New Hampshire.
Dan Savage, picture above, is co-edited of the book, It Gets Better
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It Gets Better is one of the books that should be in every high school and college library. In fact, the great thing about Dan Savage is that on the It Gets Better website, for $25, Savage will donate a book to a public library, which is wonderful for students, who like me, can barely afford their textbooks let alone a book that is life-saving.  Savage and Miller do a great in putting together this book of positive and affirming messages, telling the LGBTQ youth that things get better, you get stronger, and there are people out there who love them. I can only imagine the lives this book could save if it was in high school libraries across the country and world.

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