First the Giants, then the Cubs, and now the Red Sox:
The Boston Red Sox announced today that they will produce an “It Gets Better” video, becoming the third team in professional sports in a week to join the campaign in taking a stand against anti-gay bullying and homophobia. More than 9,000 people — mostly Red Sox fans in New England — signed 12-year-old Sam Maden’s Change.org petition to the Red Sox, which he started in honor of his Uncle Chris, who died unexpectedly in January at the age of 43.
"We are proud of dedicated Red Sox fans like 12-year-old Sam Maden who have taken the courageous step of publicly standing up against bullying of LGBT youth," said Susan Goodenow, Senior Vice President/Public Affairs and Marketing for the Red Sox, in a statement. "The Red Sox have frequently done PSA videos, or public service announcement videos, on important social issues. We are currently producing an “It Gets Better” video to support the It Gets Better campaign to stop bullying of LGBT youth and teen suicides. We hope that when it is released it will both reflect our continued commitment to be active participants in the community and help advance the efforts of Sam and others to stop bullying. Our team stands for respect and inclusion — there is no place for discrimination or acts of hatred in Red Sox Nation."
Sam Maden’s effort began after his seventh-grade teacher recently asked him to come up with a project that could “make a difference” in the world. Sam decided to merge his love for the Red Sox with a cause his uncle believed in passionately: ending the bullying of gay kids and kids perceived to be gay. Inspired by news that the San Francisco Giants had responded to a fan’s petition on Change.org by announcing they would become the first pro sports team to create an “It Gets Better” anti-bullying video, Sam decided to ask his favorite team—the Red Sox—to make a video as well.
The petition for the Mariners is here.
And for the record: I think it's great that MLB teams are jumping in and participating in the "It Gets Better" Project. It's amazing and it's going to make a huge difference. But for me and Terry—and for many of the LGBT kids we've heard from since launching the project—the most important IGB videos are still the ones created by average, everyday, ordinary LGBT adults. Videos created by politicians, corporations, pop stars, and sports teams are hugely valuable; they let LGBT kids know that the adult world is filled with straight people who are on their side. These videos let isolated, bullied, and abused LGBT kids know that mainstream Americans—unlike their peers, preachers, teachers, and, all too often, their own parents—are pro-gay, pro-tolerance, and welcoming. That huge. (Not all LGBT kids are bulled, abused, and isolated, I want to emphasize, but the IGBP was designed to reach out to those that are.)
But the heart and soul of the project are still the videos created by ordinary LGBT adults—people you haven't heard of—telling their stories, offering advice, sharing their coping strategies, and, in the comments threads and via their YouTube accounts, offering many LGBT kids something they've never had before: the ear of a sympathetic adult who understands exactly what they're going through.
Don't get me wrong: I'm thrilled by the participation of the Giants, the Red Sox, and the Cubs. (I'm ecstatic about the participation of the Cubbies!) But I don't want the excitement about each new high-profile IGB contribution to obscure the real heroes of the IGB movement: the tens of thousands of average, ordinary LGBT people out there—LGBT people of all ages, races, faiths, and backgrounds—who are reaching out and speaking to LGBT kids.