'It Gets Better' message for gay youth in US goes viral
Friday 22 October 2010
An Internet campaign to support gay and lesbian youth who are being bullied, designed in response to several cases of suicides by gay youth, has become a viral online hit.
The campaign has garnered millions of views leading up to Wear Purple Day on Wednesday, championed by gay activists in a bid to stand against homophobia.
The "It Gets Better" campaign kicked off in late September when a gay male couple in Seattle posted a video to show support for troubled youth, promising their lives will eventually improve despite the hardship they face right now.
Since then, response and reply videos from hundreds of everyday Americans, celebrities, Broadway stars and even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have inundated the web with voices of solidarity.
"These most recent deaths are a reminder that all Americans have to work harder to overcome bigotry and hatred," Clinton said in a video posted online Tuesday, on the heels of a string of suicides by young people bullied because of their sexuality.
"I have a message for all the young people out there who are being bullied, or who feel alone and find it hard to imagine a better future: First of all, hang in there and ask for help," the top American diplomat, former first lady and ex-senator said, adding: "Your life is so important"
Dan Baer, the deputy assistant secretary of state, meanwhile also posted a video in direct response, praising the viral campaign.
"It gets better. That started off when a bunch of citizens came together to do something and yesterday the secretary of state posted her own video," he said Wednesday.
In the United States, gay youth are four times more likely to commit suicide than heterosexual youth, according to The Trevor Project, a helpline that provides advice and guidance 24 hours a day to gay youth in distress.
In one of the highest-profile recent suicides, a university student killed himself by jumping into the Hudson river after two fellow undergraduates filmed him having a gay encounter and broadcast it on the Internet.
The students who filmed the encounter were arrested last month.
The tragic incident appeared to be the latest in a growing trend of sophisticated technology and social networking sites being used to give old-fashioned bullying a vicious new twist.
But the proponents of the "It Gets Better" campaign hope to use those same tools to protect the victims of bullying.
One video, featuring young Texas councilman Joel Burns addressing local assembly, has become a stand-out hit.
"To those who feel very alone, things will get better," he said in the video that has so far attracted 1.8 million views.
"The attitude of society will change," he said in defense of youth tormented at school or in their communities for their sexual orientation.
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