It’s been over three years since Dan Savage and Terry Miller uploaded an eight and a half minute video to YouTube with the simple, focussed message: “It gets better.” Over 50,000 user-produced videos and millions of views later, the It Gets Better Project is a non-profit organization with global reach (web sites in eleven languages and counting), a book, merch, and more.
Parody videos abound (I don’t think I need to explain “It Gets Bigger”). Even the vigorous debate about the impact of its message – what, for instance, to do for folks who are in the “gets worse before it gets better” hole, or those who feel personally to blame when it doesn’t feel like it’s getting any better – serves only to confirm that the concept strikes a cord. And that the desire on the part of adult survivors of abuse and harassment to extend some kind of message of hope to kids still in the weeds (or worse) is extremely widespread.
When I was a kid, my understanding of my gender identity and object choice was pretty murky. Something felt off, but I couldn’t say what. All I knew was that I felt on the outside of everything, looking in. I repressed, pretended to be someone I wasn’t, and felt essentially alone in a crowd until I got to college. Back then I would have been totally shocked to have heard messages of acknowledgement and support from people affiliated with major institutions around me. Like for instance, my parent’s bank.
The times are hecka changing. SalonLGBTQ, the social media conference for queer folk and their allies that will be taking Hotlanta by storm in a few weeks, will kick off with Renee Brown as opening keynote. She directs Wells Fargo’s Social Media, and is a Senior Vice President there, a 16-year veteran at the company. She was also last year’s co-chair at Out & Equal Workplace Advocates’ Executive Forum.
I was already excited to hear her speak. I am still a bit agog, anticipating the crossover between the LGBT politics and culture worlds I that are so vital to me on the one hand, and the media and commerce worlds that are so necessary to me on the other. To listen to a very powerful, very out, lesbian mom talk about social media and our community and how to help use the one to strengthen the other? Wow. And after seeing her part in this video (she kicks off the narratives, 22 seconds in), I’m also really hoping she’s going to be okay with being bum-rushed and bear-hugged.