Saturday, October 23, 2010

It Get's Better

Dan Savage is sorta like a celebrity in the LGBT community. While he can be acerbic, sarcastic and rude that is what makes him so charming for me. His brainchild was the "It Get's Better" campaign where people like me tell young LGBT people what it is like getting older as an out person. I am typically loath to jump on these kinds of bandwagons that eventually every person in America jumps onto because I think they can come off as contrived and tacky. Yet here I go jumping on this one right along with our president and yes even Nancy Pelosi.

I am doing this because LGBT youth are at much greater risk for suicide. The numbers are there, there is no denying it. I also know this from my own personal experience because as a teenager I attempted suicide. Growing up with a strict baptist upbringing the concept of being openly gay was not even an option I considered for myself back then. As a teenager when I was finally coming to terms with my sexuality and accepting myself I knew that I was going to be in for a very long difficult journey. The one message I want to send to anyone struggling with coming out is that yes, the journey gets better.

As teenagers LGBT's are often the recipients of bullying. That name calling sometimes leads to violence. I know in my case it did. Sometimes the violence escalates. I was able to overcome it and so can you. During the course of my 12 miserable years in public education I was called many names, was beaten up, ostracized, pushed down a flight of stairs, held underwater, endured a gauntlet in the locker room with wet towels, had my locker broken into and vandalized and many other things. How I managed to get through it, sometimes is even beyond me. What I do know is that surviving it makes us stronger. I know I am stronger because of what I endured and you will be too.

That fateful day that I survived my suicide attempt told me that I had no choice but to accept myself. Good. Bad. Ugly. Indifferent. Now here I am twenty some years later reflecting on that time in my life and I am so thankful that I survived. The years will soon enough fly by and you will wake up middle aged, with crows feet, and a little fluffy around the middle but you will wake up.

What you get for surviving those experiences will be years of memories that are good, both happy and sad. For me the most gratifying thing about survival has been that I have achieved my goals. I set out to accomplish everything I was once told I would never achieve. In spite of it all, I succeeded. The only opinion that matters about you is the one you have of yourself.

I could go on and on about my accomplishments, I could tell you all about riding camels in Egypt and visiting over 120 cities on three continents. I could tell you about landing that first great job that turns into a career that lasts for nearly twenty years. The job that takes you all over the world and pays you well enough that you can afford to live in a nice home and provides you with a company car. None of that matters. What matters is that you survive it. Don't give get's better.


Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Well put. If your story helps even just one kid, then it's worth telling it.

Christopher said...

I'm glad you weren't successful.

So many gay teens and young people take their own lives thanks in large part to the evil hatred they hear spewed by Christianians.

We have an epidemic of young deaths in America and it must stop.