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Friday, October 21, 2011

Conservative Elected Officials Release "It Gets Better" Video

Posted by on Fri, Oct 21, 2011 at 9:28 AM

The video was released by Canadian conservatives—no national conservative elected official or leader in the United States has been able to bring himself or herself to say "please don't kill yourselves" to LGBT kids. But my Canadian readers aren't buying it:


I am trying (but struggling very much) to be positive about Canadian cabinet minister Vic Toews' appearance in an "It Gets Better" video. The video was posted by Conservative staffers and Members of Parliament in the wake of Jamie Hubley's suicide this week in Ottawa. One side of me is glad. The other side is enraged. Toews, having repeatedly sought votes by peddling fear and homophobia, now has the gall to tell us that it gets better? The patronizing bastard.

I think that maybe it will get better when hypocrites like him stop telling our neighbours and colleagues how we are a threat to their communities and families. And he pretends to wonder where the hate and bullying comes from? What a fucking miserable prick. To me, It Gets Better is supposed to be a source of positive energy and I hate to be a downer, but...


Greetings from Canada. Our Conservative MPs have just recorded their own "It Gets Better" video and I thought you might want to expose their hypocrisy! Of the 10 MPs that I could identify I believe that only TWO—John Baird and Shelly Glover—voted to support the addition of "gender identity" and "gender expression" to our Criminal Code and Human Rights Act, in February of this year.

Thought I'd pass this along and maybe you can SLOG it and get your loyal readers to start calling these hypocrites out!


If you haven't heard, some staffers, MP's and a Senator of Canada's Conservative (right wing) party just posted an It Gets Better video in response to a teen suicide in Ottawa. As you know, same-sex marriage is legal here, but the Conservative Party tried to re-open that debate in 2006. I looked into that, and out of the 6 MP's who were in government at that time, 5 of them voted against same-sex rights. Pretty disgusting, but I thought you might find it interesting. Thanks for starting the project.

P.S. Here's the break down:

Lois brown- unelected in 06
Alice Wong - unelected in 06
Vic Toews - against in 06
Rona Ambrose - against in 06
Mike Wallace - against in 06
John Baird - for in 06
Shelly glover - unelected
Deepak Obhrai - against in 06
Candice Hoeppner- unelected in 06
David sweet - against in 06
Don meredith (senator) - n/a


Just thought I'd pass this on to you: it's leading Canadian Federal Tory cabinet ministers and staffers and MPs making an It Get Better video. Can you imagine Republican big wigs doing the same? I cannot imagine it. This wasn't an official video, but I'm sure if PMSH (the Prime Minister) or the party officially didn't approve, it wouldn't have happened.

Also, a lot of those on the left are bashing these Tories (I vote Liberal, btw) for making this video, i.e. "well you were bad once, this is thus hypocrisy." Surely we should be embracing them, not scolding them for being late to the party. I wonder how many Tories are afraid to fly blue at Pride Parades because they are afraid of being spit on.

"Savage Love" readers know how I feel about Vic Toews. But I'll just say this about Canada's conservatives contribution to the "It Gets Better" Project: People who are in a position to make it better—elected officials—but who have chosen, over the years, to make it worse, can come around. It's essential that they do. People who have advanced the cause of ignorance and bigotry and hate—people, like Vic Toews, people who have empowered the bullies—are welcome to see the error of their ways, to come around, to make amends and make it up. But it's going to take more than a video to undo the damage done by Vic Toews and Canada's conservatives. This was, quite literally, the least Vic and his fellow conservatives could do. The very least.


Comments (32) RSS

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despicable me 1
Better late than never. While they absolutely must do more, this is a step forward and you have to walk before you can run.
Posted by despicable me on October 21, 2011 at 9:37 AM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 2
How many of the PMs mentioned that it gets better for Gay kids. None that I heard. This video is BS. Dan are you going to let this crap through? This waters down the message that GAY Kids are bullied. I was not aware that there was an epidemic of Str8 kids being bullied.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on October 21, 2011 at 9:38 AM · Report this
While I commend the sentiment that led them to make a video, couldn't they find a video producer who had a clue?

Scripting, directing, editing, and especially sound are simply awful.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on October 21, 2011 at 9:39 AM · Report this
" national conservative elected official or leader in the United States has been able to bring himself or herself to say 'please don't kill yourselves' to LGBT kids..."

Didn't Obama make an IGB video?
Posted by DOUG. on October 21, 2011 at 9:41 AM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 5
@4, so did Hillary Clinton. So yeah, the GOP in the US is representin'.
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on October 21, 2011 at 9:46 AM · Report this
MacCrocodile 6
This is just like the Target video. They're just trying to ride coattails for free advertising.
Posted by MacCrocodile on October 21, 2011 at 9:46 AM · Report this
venomlash 7
Oh look, it's the "HURR OBAMA IS A CONSERVATIVE" meme again.
Posted by venomlash on October 21, 2011 at 9:52 AM · Report this
@7: Would you argue, then, that Obama is a liberal? His economic and social policies are very much in line with the Canadian, British and French conservative parties.
Posted by DOUG. on October 21, 2011 at 10:17 AM · Report this
@7. Well he certainly isn't a liberal or a progressive. Maybe he's an independent or a libertarian if he isn't a conservative. No wait, I know, he's a fake populist, corporate flunky POS!
Posted by They all suck! on October 21, 2011 at 10:19 AM · Report this
Irena 10
I get the feeling that Justin, the kid at the beginning, is a page who started this whole thing, and the only one that really cares about it. He's the only one who shows any real emotion. The rest of them are just phoning it in.

I also think it's telling that not a single one says, "I'm gay, and it gets better". The Conservatives would really prefer it if you'd keep that information to yourself.
Posted by Irena on October 21, 2011 at 10:32 AM · Report this
John Horstman 11
@7: Obama IS a conservative, and a Democrat by party affiliation (or, at least, his actions are in line with more Conservative platforms than not; whether that's actually him is something of a question - that book just came out suggesting he has little to no control over his own cabinet - but barring further evidence, yeah, he's a Conservative). He's spent most of his energy trying to maintain the status quo, except where he has expanded our military involvement, drug policing, fossil-fuel mining, police-state tactics (surveillance, enforcement, and torture), and corporate welfare (including support for mandating public participation in a corrupt for-profit health insurance system)*. We'll see if OWS and the upcoming election does anything to change his actual policy, but as far as I can tell, the guy isn't Left of center at all, he's just not a batshit-crazy Christian fundamentalist theocrat.

*To be fair, I know he's pushed a few policies I though were good ideas and actually Leftist, I just can't remember them, as there has been a lot more Right-wing and Centrist shit.
Posted by John Horstman on October 21, 2011 at 11:01 AM · Report this
Ophian 12
I think that any conservative [Canadian or American] that wants to join the IGBP should be welcome. However, they should include in their message that they are an example of progress as they _have changed their mind_.

Anyone who does not acknowledge past error, or worse continues to vote for bigotry, is just a cynical piece of shit for whom it should get worse.
Posted by Ophian on October 21, 2011 at 11:16 AM · Report this
John Baird is somewhat of an open-closet-case, I believe, so his might be valid. The others? I'm not sure.
Posted by lfreak on October 21, 2011 at 11:31 AM · Report this
Mittens Schrodinger 14
Actually, the least they could do is nothing...which is what conservatives are doing here in the US. So this is a little more than the least they could do. Not much, but a little.
Posted by Mittens Schrodinger on October 21, 2011 at 11:40 AM · Report this
Helenka (also a Canuck) 15
I think they were shamed into doing it, especially as the repetitious dialogue was dreadful (and some of them really had a tough time emoting with any hint of credibility those few otherwise well-known and pertinent motivating words), only because it was a kid in Ottawa who killed himself.

But, in the end, a video is meaningless unless it's followed by honourable intent and real actions.

OTOH, can I say I'll look forward to the opposition parties throwing those words back in their faces every time the government proposes some new regressive bill.
Posted by Helenka (also a Canuck) on October 21, 2011 at 11:55 AM · Report this
It's one thing to say that they could come around, which they can and should (and some have), but the problem is that this rainbow-washing is intended to cover up their consistent bigotry. All of these members were sitting in the house when they voted against, time and time again, a bill that would recognize gender identity as a protected group under the civil rights act.

It's all in rant form here:…
Posted by JustinL on October 21, 2011 at 12:05 PM · Report this
What I object to is the fact that John Baird, arguably one of the most powerful men in Ottawa, will not follow up his "It Gets Better" message by adding "And I should know because I am gay." That fact is an open secret here in Ottawa, but never mentioned because "politicians' private lives are private." If someone like him is afraid to come out, what chance does a 15 year old kid have?
Posted by Katesco on October 21, 2011 at 1:01 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 18
@ 8, that's because conservatism in France, Canada and Britain is called "being moderate" in America.

Posted by Matt from Denver on October 21, 2011 at 1:03 PM · Report this
KittenKoder 19
@18 No, it's because the christian morons haven't completely taken over politics in those areas. In the US it's more about "my church is better than yours" instead of actual politics.
Posted by KittenKoder on October 21, 2011 at 1:08 PM · Report this
bstewart23 20
John Baird may be out to friends and family, but he's certainly not out publicly or professionally. And in his professional life he practically *defines* "bully". His participation in this pathetically-executed panderfest basically tells kids "it gets better, BUT ONLY IF YOU STAY IN THE CLOSET."
Posted by bstewart23 on October 21, 2011 at 2:50 PM · Report this
I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, even if these conservative MPs are doing this video for purely political reasons (to get more support), still they're putting their names behind it. This can't be undone. On the other hand, if they're not being sincere, then their message does become meaningless.

Let us hope that some of them are indeed seeing the light, and that this video is a consequence of that. I'm far from sure about that, but one can always hope.
Posted by ankylosaur on October 21, 2011 at 6:13 PM · Report this
One of them is well known to be gay; but, he can't admit it publicly. This is hypocrisy.
Posted by UncutRod on October 22, 2011 at 12:35 PM · Report this
I have problems with both sides - the makers of the video and the critics. For many reasons I agree with the critics regarding this video, it was the absolutely least they could so after causing all the damage they have.

However, I have serious problems with this as well:

"MP Randall Garrison, the New Democratic Party critic for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues, said the Conservatives' video "fails to understand the basic concept" of the campaign, adding that message only works if delivered by openly gay people." (National Post, October 22 2011)

As a victim of intense bullying throughout high school, I had found this project to be something that could speak to not just lgbt teens - but all bullied teens. It speaks to a kind of pain a lot of us can relate to and something we can unite on. Or did I have it wrong all along? Does the "it gets better" message only work if delivered by openly gay people?

Posted by martinz on October 22, 2011 at 3:30 PM · Report this
I watched most of this video; but, aside from the very thoughtful opening comments by the younger guy, it all seemed very contrived, as nearly all the MPs featured were saying almost exactly the same things, as if reading statements off the same photocopied flash cards. It gives me absolutely no idea what they really think or feel (needless to say, I don't know much about Canadian politics).

Hence, I guess this video is well-meaning (?); but I don't see it having much impact on the lives of kids who need the message. The videos made by poor Jamie's friends are WAY better at conveying genuine feeling...

--Karen Olsen
Seattle, WA
Posted by Karen Olsen on October 22, 2011 at 6:05 PM · Report this
What does any one of the people in the video know about being bullied for being gay or for knowing that it gets better. I'm sure none of them (especially the Tories) heard the CBC documentary exposing the bullying and harrassment of senior in an old folks home in Toronto, but both staff and other residents. As a seventy something gay man, I can tell you, it is through a thickening of the skin and the help of loyal friends, one learns to live with the abuse, but the hate mongers persist
Posted by PierceR Ottawa on October 22, 2011 at 7:52 PM · Report this
@11: How could Obama not have control over his own cabinet? He can fire them at will. What book is this?
Posted by BlackRose on October 23, 2011 at 3:36 AM · Report this
Martinz: I understand that bullying in high school is a tough thing to bear; but, you have no idea how terrible it is for gay youth. Imagine your experience a hundred times worse and you might come close to what it was like. Bullying has to be stopped...that message applies to everyone gay or straight; but, I speak from experience that it is on a different plane when you are being bullied because you are gay.
Posted by UncutRod on October 23, 2011 at 1:27 PM · Report this
Hi Dan. This is Dany Morin, NDP MP for Chicoutimi - Le Fjord. I also agree that this video is a good first step for the conservatives. We (the NDP) will reintroduce shortly our bill to protect trans people and I expect that every conservative in this video will vote for it. Otherwise, this video would have meant nothing.

Keep up the good work, your podcasts helped me a lot in the past. ;)
Posted by Dany Morin, MP for Chicoutimi - Le Fjord on October 23, 2011 at 8:37 PM · Report this
I can't speak for or about Canada -- not familiar with the politics up yonder -- but while I would hope for any bigoted American politician to come around, I don't want to see American Republicans in an "It Gets Better" video unless they become a clear supporter of gay rights in all other areas. If they try to talk out of both sides of their mouths -- calling us degenerate barbarians to their base and then trying to cheer us up from all the bullying we get from their base -- it would be worse than making no video at all.
Posted by Daniel_NY on October 23, 2011 at 8:54 PM · Report this
Uncut Rod - To that I would say a knife is a knife and we all bleed the same. The message that It gets better - is (or at least I thought so) something that people outside the lgbt community can connect to. This isn't about being a part of some exclusive club. At least it shouldn't be. It's not a matter of "my pain was greater than yours". If that is what it has become, then the message has been lost and it isn't what I thought it was or could be.

And for the record - you have no idea what my experience was so how can you automatically say it was somehow less worse than what a gay youth experienced? Different - yes. Worse? Does it matter? A victim is a victim. We should all stand up together, gay or not. That's how you make a difference.
Posted by Martinzz on October 23, 2011 at 10:06 PM · Report this
They did make an attempt, so it wasn't completely the least they could do, but it was a very close. As a Canadian, I was hoping, when I saw that the Conservatives had made an "It Gets Better" video, that John Baird would use the moment to come out publicly. (Although, I went to high school with Baird and, ironically, I don't remember him ever being bullied over being gay. I do remember him being harassed over the. fact that he was such an enormous political geek. At the age of 14, he'd stand up and pick fights at all-candidates meetings. We all thought he was nuts.)

What annoyed me about this video is that all these MPs read the same script: not a single personal story. The power in the "It Gets Better" videos is in the personal messages. It is in hearing people say "My life sucked as a teenager, and look at how great it is now." Even Baird could have done that and stayed in the closet. ("They laughed at me when I went around handing out Conservative pamphlets at recess and look at me now!")

The irony that none of these MPs said a single unscripted word is not lost on any Canadian - Prime Minister Harper is known to do his best to control every word out of his members' mouths. I can't imagine that a bunch of suits spouting platitudes is going to reach a single teenager in pain, gay or straight.
Posted by Yael on October 25, 2011 at 6:19 AM · Report this
It will get better once these assholes are voted out of office. trust me, it will get better.
Posted by barron12 on October 27, 2011 at 2:34 PM · Report this

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