One year ago, Billy (William) Lucas, a 15-year-old from Greensburg, Ind., was found dead in a barn at his grandmother’s home — he had hanged himself, because, according to classmates, he was tormented for years because other kids thought he was gay.
Billy took his own life just hours after fellow students told him he didn’t deserve to live.
Lucas was not an isolated victim in a spate of LGBTQ of adolescent and young adults in 2010 killing themselves. There were nearly fifteen plus highly publicized news accounts of young persons who committed suicide because they were gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
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Lucas’ death though seemed to strike a chord that raised a national sense of awareness in the media and public that a pandemic was killing at risk LGBTQ youth and young adults.
The death toll seemed to mount weekly, prompting Seattle columnist Dan Savage and his husband Terry Miller — alarmed and angered by these deaths — to create a YouTube video to send a message to young LGBTQ youth at risk that they needed to persevere, that there was hope, and that life does get better.
The “It Gets Better” video went viral and produced a reaction that ultimately led to literal thousands of “It Gets Better” videos from persons from every walk of life, queer and straight alike, all conveying the same message of hope. Noteworthy were contributions from political figures, professional athletes, entertainment celebrities, and even the CEO’s of major corporations.
Critics charged that Savage’s approach was little more than a feel good band-aid and questioned the value of Savage’s efforts. There were negative aspects as the so-called christian family values organizations railed against the campaign, referring to the It gets Better videos as attempts by “homosexual activists” to indoctrinate America’s youth.
The president of the Washington D.C. based Family Research Council, Tony Perkins, went so far as to label the video contributions by President Barack Obama, the First Lady, Vice-President Joe Biden and senior administration officials hosted on the official White House website as “disgusting.”
Despite the criticism, the video campaign morphed from Savage’s initial YouTube campaign into a non-profit organization dedicated to stemming the tide of suicide by LGBTQ youth, sponsoring a movement and a continuing effort to spread the messages in the videos.
Jim Burroway, editor of the LGBTQ blog, Box Turtle Bulletin, had published the question Friday, “Ever Wonder Whether Those “It Gets Better” Videos Have Ever Helped Anyone?”
According to Burroway, one young gay teen named Dylan answered the question in a video response two weeks ago to an “It Gets Better” video posted by a Northern California police officer and his husband.
Dylan’s video is an example that the campaign’s message of hope is indeed being received. Watch:
And here is the “It Gets Better” video by Jay and Brian that helped Dylan realize that it does, in fact, get better:
More of Jay and Bryan’s videos are at their YouTube channel, Gay Family Values.