Campaign promises bullied LGBT children that “it gets better.”

March 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

Amy Johnson in her video for the Trevor Project which encourages people to be hopeful about the future and to ask for help if they need it.(Photo by: Gianna DeCarlo/TU Student)

Amy Johnson in her video for the Trevor Project which encourages people to be hopeful about the future and to ask for help if they need it.
(Photo by: Gianna DeCarlo/TU Student)

“It gets better” is a simple and powerful statement that has become the slogan of hope for those who are struggling to imagine a brighter future.

The It Gets Better campaign is an online movement created in response to teenagers who have been bullied to the point of suicide. The program is focused on connecting people and creating support systems for LGBT youth.

The movement’s official statement on their website reads “The It Gets Better Project was created to show young LGBT people the levels of happiness, potential, and positivity their lives will reach.”

The cause has spread rapidly thanks to the internet, which allows thousands of people to record and share their videos with personal testimonies and affirmations that yes, it does get better. The cause has even spread to Hollywood, with celebrities like Lady Gaga and the Baltimore Orioles recording videos in support.

These programs are just a part of the overarching anti-bullying that has risen into public opinion in the past year.  The heightened media attention has caused many states to create anti-bullying legislation.

It’s not difficult to find examples of support for this movement. People all over the world have been filling every corner of the internet with their words of hope and encouragement.

Amy Johnson, 19, posted her video about The Trevor Project, an organization that prevents LGBT suicides. She hoped that her words would inspire and reach out to somebody who feels lost.

In grainy black and white, she told the viewer about her own experiences with bullying. She’s straight, she says, but that doesn’t mean bullying isn’t an important issue to her.

“The saying, ‘Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me,’ couldn’t be farther from the truth,” Amy said “words hurt, they matter because you internalize those things and develop negative beliefs about yourself.”

Amy got involved in The Trevor Project after hearing about the suicide on her local news which was the result of bullying. She felt motivated to help these people and, through a video, gave her support to all those who were struggling.

“I just felt like it was important to get some sort of message across that everyone is loved no matter who they love and that it will get better no matter what situation or demons they’re battling” Johnson said.

Jake Mays, 21, was bullied for his sexual orientation before he even knew what those words meant. He recounted countless years of being harassed by his peers for how he looked and acted.

“I was young, and I didn’t even know I was gay at the time but people were still using it against me.” Jake said about his experience. For him, bullying destroyed his self-esteem and made him afraid to go to school every day.

Mays found out about the Its Getter Better after seeing Lady Gaga’s video for the cause. After that, he watched dozens of videos and was inspired by the optimism and for the first time, began to feel proud of who he was.

“The ‘It Gets Better‘ project was important to be because it showed me that I wasn’t alone and that there are people out there who really understand me and can help,” Mays said.

One of the reasons the anti-bullying movement has become a prominent public issue is the internet. Cyberbullying over social networking websites has become a problem since people can be completely anonymous. While the internet has helped the movement forward, it also reinvented the way bullying works.

Kirstie Skarakis, 19, says that attention should be given to cyber bullying too. “Cyber bullying is worrying because people can completely hide their identities and say horrible things,” Skarakis said.

Skarakis said that while the internet is a valuable tool for meeting people and gathering support, she warns that people should be cautious.

“It does get better, it truly does. But that doesn’t mean that there still aren’t bad people out there,” she said.

Since its inception in 2010, the It Gets Better project has received over 22, 000 video submissions, many including support from celebrities and other public figures.

Starting with a focus on bullying in the LGBT community, the project has expanded to end bullying for all people.

“It starts with you,” Mays said, “if my video inspires one person to stop bullying or if it helps one person come to terms with their sexuality then I am happy.”

Mays said that It Gets Better and Trevor Project promote change and that because of the efforts of the people involved, the world will change for the better.

Johnson agreed, saying that the small changes people make will add up to all the difference in the world.

Johnson says, “Don’t be afraid to stand up and speak out for others. Encourage your friends to follow your lead; one person can start a movement.”

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