Savage Love

By Dan Savage
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Sep. 28, 2011

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Then there’s this detail from the Buffalo News:

“Last September, the It Gets Better Project was launched online as a place for adults [to] reassure troubled and potentially suicidal lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth that despite the taunting, bullying, and physical abuse they face as adolescents and teens, life improves after high school. In May of 2011, Jamey posted [a] YouTube video with the description ‘Jamey From Buffalo, New York telling you, IT GETS BETTER!’”

The It Gets Better Project was created to give bullied and despairing LGBT kids hope for their future. But sometimes hope isn’t enough. Sometimes the damage done by hate and haters is simply too great. Sometimes the future seems too remote. And those are the times that we all feel despair.

Watching Jamey’s It Gets Better video in the wake of his suicide is indescribably heartbreaking. We know now that Jamey was in pain when he made his video. But he was reaching out and trying to help other kids who were suffering.

We can best honor his memory by following his example.

As I’ve said since launching the It Gets Better Project in this space a year ago, nothing about participating in the IGBP excuses or precludes us—the adults among us—from doing more. The videos have helped and continue to help; we’ve heard from thousands of kids and their parents over the last 12 months. Countless LGBT kids have told us that the IGBP provided them with the hope, moral support, insight and practical referrals to services that they needed to persevere. But we can do more. We can press for the passage of the Student Non-Discrimination Act, we can fight to get anti-bullying programs that address anti-LGBT bullying into the schools, we can support GLSEN and its efforts to get GSAs into every public middle and high school, we can support the Trevor Project and the crucial work it does.

And we can— we must—confront the bigots who are making it worse for kids like Jamey. Whether the bigots are stalking the halls of our schools, running their mouths on cable news or running for president—the bigots must be confronted and held accountable for the lives they’re destroying.

ABC News reported there may be some accountability in Jamey’s case: “The Amherst Police Department’s Special Victims Unit has said it will determine whether to charge some students with harassment, cyber-harassment, or hate crimes. Police said three students in particular might have been involved.”

Harassment and cyber-harassment don’t become crimes only after the target commits suicide. They’re crimes, period, and they should be investigated and prosecuted before a grieving family has to bury a child, not after.

Jamey’s parents have asked that donations be made in his memory to Crisis Services (crisisservices.org). Please donate. And then find something else you can do and go do it. Then do more.

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