We’ve all been very aware of the sad string of young gay suicides recently, and the It Gets Better Project has been attempting to get a message out to those struggling with similar issues of bullying and depression: It gets better.
I recently took to Twitter to ask some young lesbian followers how they feel about the project, and if it’s reaching them or anyone they know. While most of them acknowledged it’s a good thing, they also didn’t feel like it was really for them. The celebrities are primarily straight, and the gay ones are primarily men. They aren’t seeing themselves, so it feels like young gay women aren’t a target audience.
(A big thanks to @send4ash, @nikkeh09, @realtin, @keracolin, @misslsw, @colleenbrethour, @rcherrymischief, @twinsandgirl, @myheadphoneson, @grungebaby92, @Rikki_nikea, @MariliaVilar, @_shkippy_ , @hannahl17, @bjacobsxd, @djstarii7, @this_symphony, @xperiment314, @changetheirhue, @KoriNeedham, @brencolrec, @sara_bugden for their input!)
But are we bullied? You bet. The less publicized joint suicide of two young Canadian lesbians, Jeanine Blanchette, 21, and Chantal Dubé, 17, has sadly proven this to be true.
It’s not just about the young gay men, so where are the older lesbian voices to give them pieces of advice?
We have some right here.
Meg Streit: If you’re a young lesbian lady who is being bullied or rejected because you like girls – first of all, congratulations for having the courage to come out at a young age. There are women double and triple your age who would like to be honest about who they are and who they love, but haven’t yet found the strength that you did. There is not a single LGBTQ person who has not felt exactly how you are feeling now at some point in her or his life. But the good news is, it gets so much better! It gets wonderful, actually.
As you go off to college or begin working and move out of your parents’ house, you will find a whole new community that embraces you (and believe it or not, some of the people who don’t accept you now will come to realize they are wrong). Once you get away from the people who are bullying you, you will begin to see that you can be gay and have a life filled with anything you want – friends, a successful career, a great home, happiness, love, and even marriage and children.
Remember that there are lots of us older lesbians out there working hard to change laws and spread tolerance so that your life will be easier than ours. I promise you, times are changing. Very soon, the kind of bigotry and intolerance you are experiencing will be totally unacceptable, and the people who harassed you will look back on what they did with shame. And trust me, you will be so busy living your own fabulous life that you won’t even remember their names!
Dorothy Snarker: It gets better is simple to say, but often hard to believe. Far-off promises mean little when your everyday is like a waking hell. That’s great that things will be better in one, two, five, ten years. How can they be better now? Well, they can and will get better because you aren’t alone. You are never alone. We’ve all been there, and we’re all here now for you. The trick, as always, is to find us.
Rainbow flag and leather wristcuffs aside, identifying other gay people is sometimes the hardest part about coming out. Where are we? Why can’t we all wear flashing signs or some sort of neck lanyard for easier identification? But no matter where you live, there are ways to find people. If your high school has a gay-straight alliance club, talk to them. If your city has a LGBT center, visit it. Check for your closest local chapters of PFLAG or GLSEN.
But even if those are nowhere near, even if you are sure not a single other gay person lives in your town (p.s. there totally are, I swear), there are a wealth of online forums to find support, friendship and the strength to get through the bad times. And if you don’t have a computer, you can always pick up a phone. The Trevor Project is there for you 24-hours a day, seven-days a week for free, confidential support. Call 866-488-7386.
Things do get better, they are getting better. We are all working hard to make sure they get better. Trust me, you want to be around for the good stuff.