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Friday, November 19, 2010

It Gets Better: The Prime Minister

Posted by on Fri, Nov 19, 2010 at 8:33 AM

Holy shit—color me shocked, floored, and grateful. And this is the leader of the Conservative Party in the UK. Try to picture a Republican politician making an IGBP video—not one that I'm aware of has—much less the leader of the GOP.

But I have to say...

David Cameron isn't the first straight politician who has told bullied LGBT kids to go to their parents for support. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and Nancy Pelosi—practically every straight politician who's made an IGBP video has said the same thing: go and ask mom and dad for help.

Between twenty and forty percent of homeless teenagers are LGBT kids and most of these homeless LGBT kids were thrown out of their homes when they came out or were outed to their families. It would be wonderful if all LGBT kids were lucky enough to have parents as supportive as Constance McMillen's are or as mine became. But all too often mom and dad are bullies too—they're usually the chief bullies, the worst bullies, the ones who do the most damage. (For an example of the bullying gay kids endure at the hands of their parents, check this out.)

Bullied LGBT kids should be encouraged to reach out, to find help, to seek support. But that support, sadly, can't always be found at home.

Before we tell vulnerable queer kids to effectively out themselves to mom and dad—telling your parents that you're being bullied at school for being perceived as gay often confirms their "worst" suspicions—we should tell them to take a long, hard look at their parents, assess the risks of coming out, and have a backup/escape plan if mom and dad react poorly.

Because they could—and the consequences of coming out to your parents too soon can be severe.


Comments (54) RSS

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Joe Szilagyi 1
Two heads of state so far? Wow.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on November 19, 2010 at 8:45 AM · Report this
Canuck 2
It makes my heart break to think of a vulnerable gay kid being rejected by his or her parents, so fucking sad. We need a network of people who would be willing to take in these kids, and let them finish school in a safe home environment. I'm sure this is unrealistic, because of the potential abuses, but if there were some sort of grassroots campaign to match kids with people/families who could take them in...?

Wasn't it that movie Parenthood, where Keanu Reeves says:
"You need a license to catch a fish, but they'll let any asshole be a father."
Posted by Canuck on November 19, 2010 at 8:54 AM · Report this
scary tyler moore 3
and any asshole is.
Posted by scary tyler moore on November 19, 2010 at 9:02 AM · Report this
despicable me 4
Well somewhere along the line I think I predicted The Queen would make a video. I'm still waiting, but in the mean time, this is lovely.
Posted by despicable me on November 19, 2010 at 9:05 AM · Report this
MacCrocodile 5
@1 - Technically, he's not a head of state. I believe he'd be referred to as the head of government. The queen is the head of state. Cameron is still a phenomenal get for the project, but he's no queen.

Now, if the queen (head of state and head of the entire Church of England) did an IGBP video, that would be something (again, not that this isn't something).
Posted by MacCrocodile on November 19, 2010 at 9:07 AM · Report this
I totally want him to spank me.
Posted by DianeSEA on November 19, 2010 at 9:07 AM · Report this
duckgirlie 7
Well this is nice and all, but this is still the guy that voted against giving lesbians IVF treatment, said teaching kids about homosexuality was against the traditional family mould & only changed his mind on civil partnerships when the vote went through.
Posted by duckgirlie on November 19, 2010 at 9:10 AM · Report this
Dan, you deserve a Nobel Peace Prize for creating "It Gets Better". You are my hero.
Posted by mr pinky on November 19, 2010 at 9:11 AM · Report this
jvm 9
Conservative parties in other countries are considerably less evil. Seriously. Or at least, they pretend to not be evil (which is really all we get from Democrats anyway).
Posted by jvm on November 19, 2010 at 9:26 AM · Report this
OutInBumF 10
Thanks, Dan! I notice this in the IGBP vids, and it makes me cringe. Sadly, parental units are often the worst choice of people to come out to as a teen, because parents (even well-meaning ones) still believe they can mold and change their teens...sigh. Since we're still not beyond "it's a choice" in 50+% of American's minds, what could be a better thing to beat, bully, ridicule and reject out of one's kids than teh ghey? As if the bullies at school weren't enough.
I think I could have made it through 7-12th grades without the suicidal ideation had I had a single one of my 4 parents' support for my sexuality, bullies be damned, but I didn't. They came around when I came out as an adult, but they'd have had me off for re-programming in a heartbeat in the '70's.
Posted by OutInBumF on November 19, 2010 at 9:33 AM · Report this
mandaline 11
@2 I was wondering if something like that existed, even if it's just a few nights.

Does anyone know of a program like that?
Posted by mandaline on November 19, 2010 at 9:33 AM · Report this
Anne in MA 12
Yeah, it's worth noting that "conservative" has a very different meaning in the UK than in the US. The Tories just don't have the same kind of anti-gay agenda the Republicans do. I'm no great fan of P.M. Cameron, but he's certainly not a crazed bigot.
Posted by Anne in MA on November 19, 2010 at 9:34 AM · Report this
I've noticed the trend as well. I volunteer for an organization in NYC that houses, clothes, feeds, provides medical and mental health care, and loves homeless LGBT teens. It is safer for these kids to live on the streets of NYC than it is to go home. These kids have been rejected, raped, beaten, scalped, burned, had fingers cut have no idea, and this organization takes them from trauma to functioning adult. Of course, thousands of these kids are still living on the streets because the organization, despite vigorous fundraising efforts, only gets so much.

These are our children, and it makes me want to scream. I'm not a Catholic anymore, but I can't help but remember this part of scripture that goes, "What you do for the least of my people..." Find me someone who fits the bill better than these kids, and I'll go help them.
Posted by Soo on November 19, 2010 at 9:36 AM · Report this
BEG 14
Wow -- holy shit indeed! Did your husband realize he was going to pop his low-profile out-of-the-limelight cherry quite so thoroughly with that first IGBP video??

@Canuck, breaks my heart, too. This is why most of my donations go to the local lgbt teen shelter.

And yeah, authority figures will tend to reify other authority figures, too. Goes with the hierarchy. Contrast that with the solution these kids (mostly straight) came up with: We Want It To Get Better (Teens) - It Ge….

Posted by BEG!/browneyedgirl65 on November 19, 2010 at 9:40 AM · Report this
Amen to that Dan. I spent a few years 'out-of-home' (the new PC bullshit way of saying homeless) after my mom found my diary/porn. Sad fact is that parents are very often the greatest 'bulliers' gay kids face, which is exactyl why the It Gets Better Project is so important. Endorsements like thoes of Obama and McMilen may be politically orientated but they go a long way towards raising awarness of the real hardships LGBTQ kids face every single day. This project reaches out to everyone with ears to hear it and a heart that feels it. Kids in need can listen and hopefully take some comfort from the testimonials and parents/people/adults can see the real need these kids have for safe spaces and support.
You are amazing in ways words cant describe Mr. Savage.

P.S to @ 2 & 11... they have thoes already, they're called youth homeless shelters. If you're a seattleite I volunteer at the ROOTS shelter in the U-district. Come help us out sometime.
Posted by Jonathank5 on November 19, 2010 at 9:57 AM · Report this
Fox in Socks 16
You can't expect any mainstream politician to get between parents and kids. It's just not politically acceptable to tell kids to go around their parents. They have to say "talk to your parents" and sound like they mean it, even if they know it's bullshit. We're talking about The Family, here, and you don't dare drive a wedge there.

I'm sure these politicians know that this undermines their credibility with kids but what choice do they have? It's one of the reasons counterculture exists. There are always things that those in power cannot say.
Posted by Fox in Socks on November 19, 2010 at 10:08 AM · Report this
Dingo 17
It should be noted that David Cameron is the only major British party leader who doesn't (yet) support marriage equality (there are same-sex civil unions but not marriages). On the other hand, he does support civil unions, and as recently as last month he made a welcome statement for a gay arts festival in London.
Posted by Dingo on November 19, 2010 at 10:13 AM · Report this
kim in portland 18
My heart breaks for these kids. I understand that home isn't always a safe place. Both school and home were not safe places for me, in fact home was a far scarier place. There was no place for me to go. I made it by choosing to hang on for an event in the future, and when it arrived I chose a new one. Kind of a challenge to myself to live to Thanksgiving, then live until my birthday, and then live to Christmas...

Keep those donations to LGBT teen shelters coming, but become aware of those around you. Make it your responsibility that others know that you are safe. Every school week I walk those halls, serve lunch, supervise the basketball courts being present. Wearing a necklace made from a Scrabble tile that says that I'm safe. It is a small silly thing, the necklace, but it works. We've become a support system, a family and a home where everyone is welcome and wanted at the table. I'll admit that we haven't been eaten out of house or home yet, most just want to know that we are there so far. So far knowing they aren't rejected has been enough for the three we've gotten to know.

Keep up the good work, Dan and All.
Posted by kim in portland on November 19, 2010 at 10:14 AM · Report this
BrandonC 19
This makes me cry. A conservative politician who is proud of the diversity and tolerance of his country - not because it's good sound bite - but because it's something he truly believes in.

God save the Prime Minister.
Posted by BrandonC on November 19, 2010 at 10:15 AM · Report this
Loveschild 20
Communication within the family is always key, especially for all youth, regardless of the particular issues they deal with. When a minor has the security of living in a strong household where both mother and father provide a loving and affirming foundation, they'll communicate and be advised and guided by those who truly love them. As such they wont go searching for it outside the home or on social networking sites. Making them less susceptible to outsiders who feed on the vulnerability created by the absence in someway or another of such an important foundation.

Such as this case :…
Posted by Loveschild on November 19, 2010 at 10:23 AM · Report this
Fnarf 21
It's a lovely statement by Mr. Cameron.

Now, off with his fucking head. The Tories are destroying the UK.
Posted by Fnarf on November 19, 2010 at 10:25 AM · Report this
I thought he was just listing "Mum and Dad" among a list of POSSIBLE people that a bullied kid could talk to.
Posted by grapemn on November 19, 2010 at 10:26 AM · Report this
A huge part of the Homosexual Agenda is undermining the family and stealing children away from the values of their parents.
Congratulations, Danny.....
Posted by there are no parents in Gommorah on November 19, 2010 at 10:43 AM · Report this
venomlash 24
@20: This is about kids looking for someone to care for them, right? And you do understand that this kid was looking for (apparently consensual, but with a disgusting age difference) sex, right? I'll say it again, just to make you cringe: he was looking for SEX SEX SEX.
@23: A huge part of the Ultraconservative Agenda is co-opting the family structure and indoctrinating children into the twisted and illogical values of their parents.
Congratulations, Alleged...
Posted by venomlash on November 19, 2010 at 10:56 AM · Report this
BEG 25
One of my British compatriots said, and I quote: "If he [Cameron] really gave a shit he would have called on Chris Grayling to resign for the comments he made about gay couples. Instead he gave him a ministerial post. Cameron's voting record on GLBT issues makes interesting reading too."

To me, it is still telling that he saw a political advantage to making such a video. A conservative leader here doing that would be absolutely crucified by the rightmongers.
Posted by BEG!/browneyedgirl65 on November 19, 2010 at 10:58 AM · Report this
Dan, he doesn't say "talk to you parents", he says "talk to SOMEONE". And THAT is a good message. If the parents won't listen, it doesn't mean one is alone.
Posted by little_kitten on November 19, 2010 at 11:02 AM · Report this
The Lizard of Id 27
Back in my college days, the counselor who led the school's LGBT outreach always recommended taking a good hard look at how a student's parents would react before coming out. If a student was still dependent on their parents for financial support, she would often recommend waiting until the student finished school on their parents' money and could be financially independent before dropping the bomb on them. I hate to see anyone remain in the closet, but it was a perfect way to say "fuck you, you just spent all that money educating me" to a pair of bigoted parents.

I've seen parents pull some heavily-delusional tactics to stave off the inevitable, which the industrious young homo can use to their advantage. For example, one of my gay friends was awarded a new car for "keeping a girlfriend." He used it mostly for finding coke-fueled buttsecks and driving us homos to raves.

I'm sure the people running teen shelters are aware of the large percentage of LGBT youth in their care, but aside from the individual kindness of workers and volunteers, do any have any programs in place specifically for LGBT youth?
Posted by The Lizard of Id on November 19, 2010 at 11:06 AM · Report this
BEG 28
@27 In my area: Youth Housing Project. I'm sure you can find others via google.
Posted by BEG!/browneyedgirl65 on November 19, 2010 at 11:10 AM · Report this
Posted by BEG!/browneyedgirl65 on November 19, 2010 at 11:12 AM · Report this
MirrorMan 30
Ah, Loveschild and the Anti-Dan Troll! No picnic is complete until the insects show up!
Posted by MirrorMan on November 19, 2010 at 11:13 AM · Report this
YES! Every time one of these high-profile straight people have advised gay kids to go to their parents for help, I've thought, "You know, it's sweet that you made this video . . . but . . . gay kids are often bullied by their parents, so doing that could actually make things worse . . ."
Posted by Lorran on November 19, 2010 at 11:14 AM · Report this

please don't point out Danny's illiteracy.
it's Slogs Dirty Little secret.
Posted by Dan is Special on November 19, 2010 at 11:18 AM · Report this
BEG 33
Apropos Keith Olbermann, looks like MSNBC finally went after Scarborough: MSNBC Suspends Scarborough For Two Days ….
Posted by BEG!/browneyedgirl65 on November 19, 2010 at 11:18 AM · Report this

now, you know you carry them with you where ever you go, maggot-ass.....
Posted by Truth is the Anti-Dan on November 19, 2010 at 11:19 AM · Report this
Kim in Portland, you're amazing.

And it's time for me to start telling my daughter again that if she knows anyone who gets kicked out of their house for being gay to bring them home, no questions asked. In all my years volunteering in the U-District, I could never understand how a parent could cast out a child for being gay. Or how a child could survive that sort of rejection.
Posted by jt on November 19, 2010 at 11:25 AM · Report this
Last of the Time Lords 36
Newsflash: The conservatives in GB are more like the moderate Democrats in the US.

And something else to chew on: GB has great health care because of that CONSERVATIVE Prime Minister Winston Churchill who claimed that was his greatest achievement as PM.

Posted by Last of the Time Lords on November 19, 2010 at 11:26 AM · Report this
Loveschild 37
@venom : Minors cannot consent to sexual encounters with adults, not only is it a criminal offense but psychologically speaking a minor has not fully develop mentally (nor in most cases physically) to engage in such acts. But I'm glad to see that at least we agree in one thing, that it was disgusting. As you grow up, venom, and form a family of your own, I'm sure you'll be able to better comprehend at least two things :

1. Consent:

There cannot be any 'consent' between a disgusting forty-something male and a youth.

2. The importance of the family structure:

The same thing you seem to look down upon now is what allows for our society to exist.
Until you experience it on a personal level ( when you form your own ), you wont fully get it tho.

Hope all is goin well with your studies.
Posted by Loveschild on November 19, 2010 at 11:27 AM · Report this
BEG 38
On another tack, this is just full of AWESOME: Two Men Marry Aboard Virgin America Flig…. The pilot actually diverted the flight over Canada for the marriage ceremony part.
Posted by BEG!/browneyedgirl65 on November 19, 2010 at 11:47 AM · Report this
@2 IDK what the situation is like in Canada, but I read an article in Mother Jones this week here:…
about how tough it is for gay kids to get into/stay in Foster Homes.
Posted by HK on November 19, 2010 at 11:53 AM · Report this
puppydogtails 40
This video for me should show people that conservatives aren't all haters, and that the larger goal of all GLBT activists should be to get ALL parties behind equality so that it's no longer a wedge issue. Yes, it doesn't look good in the USA right now, but we can dream. There are lots of conservatives who don't hate gays but are too cowardly to stand up to the idiots. Those who are too scarred by divisive politics will view this as total BS, but who cares -- it's the only way forward.

@21 - The Tories (and Lib Dems) are not destroying the UK. Labour spent like a drunken sailor for years, and now a more responsible group of people are trying to put things right. Of course, they get the blame for being the meanies, but you can't get something for nothing. I for one am THRILLED that they are fixing the insane benefits culture in the UK, where people live their entire lives on the government teat.
Posted by puppydogtails on November 19, 2010 at 12:11 PM · Report this
"The Tories just don't have the same kind of anti-gay agenda the Republicans do."

Anymore. Sort of.

They're moving in the right direction, but do not forget the past until it's the distant past.
Posted by BobSF_94117 on November 19, 2010 at 12:32 PM · Report this
BEG 42
@40 Do not, do not, do not for a moment think that british conservatism is in any way like U.S. conservatism. No. Pop 'em over here and everyone would see them as blue dog Democrats.
Posted by BEG!/browneyedgirl65 on November 19, 2010 at 12:36 PM · Report this
merry 43
I second what #8 said - if the IGBP isn't worthy of a Nobel, then I don't know what is.

@ 30 - LOLz!
Posted by merry on November 19, 2010 at 12:52 PM · Report this
puppydogtails 44
@42 -- Lots of common ground between the UK Tories and American conservatives. Chris Christie would looove the most recent coalition budget that provoked riots in London. If Reagan had proposed cuts that deep, he would have been called even worse names by liberals.

And just because the current Tories are friendlier on social issues doesn't mean they weren't nasty before:

All I was saying was that things change. Many U.S. conservatives want fiscal matters to be front and center, ahead of social issues:…

Posted by puppydogtails on November 19, 2010 at 1:11 PM · Report this
venomlash 45
@37: Excuse me, but what the fuck are you smoking?
Minors can consent to sex if they're old enough to understand sex (i.e., pubescent). Their consent just isn't LEGALLY valid.
I guess according to your understanding of consent, my girlfriend raped the shit out of me for the months that she was 18 but I wasn't. I feel violated now.
And you still haven't replaced the teacup that you turned into a pony last year.
Posted by venomlash on November 19, 2010 at 2:37 PM · Report this
Canuck 46
@39 yeah, going the traditional foster route might be challenging, as they'd have to be placed with people who were less bigoted than their parents...i was thinking of more of an informal network, but supporting lgbt youth shelters sounds good. I need to look into that sort of thing in calgary (appalling that i don't know, will remedy that tonight...)
Posted by Canuck on November 19, 2010 at 2:41 PM · Report this
The IGBP has really blossomed. Thank you so much for doing this. Makes you wonder who the next head of government will be, to come on board. And hey, any Nobel Peace Prize laureates reading here, how about a nomination for Dan Savage?
Posted by cpxvw2 on November 19, 2010 at 2:49 PM · Report this
Backyard Bombardier 48
@37: "Until you experience [the family] on a personal level ( when you form your own ), you wont fully get it tho."

I've formed my own family. One I am sure you and those who think like you approve of: straight married man and woman with biological children. And guess what I get?

I get that you are a narrow-minded bigot. My family and I completely reject your hateful worldview. We welcome diversity and we look forward to the day when all people around the world can marry and form families with the ones they love, whether they are straight, gay, queer, trans, or whatever.

Get it through your head: you do not speak for the "traditional" family. We reject you.
Posted by Backyard Bombardier on November 19, 2010 at 4:34 PM · Report this
Extremely important point, Dan, and I think we need to be clear that it would be reckless to suggest to all bullied/gay teens that they go to their parents for help.

In fairness to Cameron though, this is what he said: "Talk to someone about it. You don't have to struggle on dealing with this on your own. There are so many people out there - whether it's your mum and dad, your teachers, family friends, people who care about you and want to help you." He says that mom and dad are an option, if they fit in the category of "people who care about you".
Posted by Justin DaMica on November 19, 2010 at 6:02 PM · Report this
Holey maloney, the British PM.

Who's next, Dan? Vladimir Putin?
Posted by ankylosaur on November 19, 2010 at 10:11 PM · Report this
Tetchy Brit 51
@37 Hate to break this to you but I'm part of a traditional family: I have a mum and a dad who love and care for me and have not a single problem with me being gay. I suppose you'd call them evil for not disowning me the second I came out to them.

As for Cameron, while I despise his attempts to kill the BBC for Murdoch, he does have some decent policies and I respect him making this video. It shows just how far the UK is ahead of the US on gay rights that even our right wing politicians are pro-rights.
Posted by Tetchy Brit on November 19, 2010 at 11:05 PM · Report this
Oh, David Cameron can fuck RIGHT OFF.

It does get better, Dave, but we're all looking forward to your plans for the people on social security and university students. I just can't wait for it to get better for them.

@7 What you said.
Posted by Clara on November 20, 2010 at 7:49 AM · Report this
Cherry Pirate 53
The comments make the point that I make about canada. People hate the shit out of the convservative PM, but not one of these people, and no significant majority in the population, gives a half fuck about their position on civil rights. We have had one prime minister partially run on anti-gay marriage (Our current) in canada and he lost that initiative completely and left it alone. It's the strangest thing, being against gay rights and making a fuss about it is politically damaging almost everywhere. Look at the comments, people in the rest of the world vote on fiscal policy. And hell, that's an argument worth having. The one about what taxpaying non-criminal landowner is entitled to the full rights of the state is a no-brainer... most places anyways.
Posted by Cherry Pirate on November 20, 2010 at 8:40 AM · Report this
To Dan's comment about Republican politicians doing something like this, this clip illustrates the sad difference between the U.S. and the rest of the industrialized world. In European countries or Canada, politicians just don't win votes by being publicly anti-gay, and even right of center politicians often try to appear accepting of or even embracing gays. Chalk it all up to religion. Europeans are over it, and we're not, and until Americans leave it in the past, we're going to be fighting the same fights for gay equality.
Posted by brendansf on November 23, 2010 at 2:39 PM · Report this

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