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You Get Stronger

April 11, 2011
Heard this on the radio last week, NPR's Fresh Air and felt like it was powerful enough to reiterate. Terry Gross was interviewing columnist and author Dan Savage and his husband and author Terry Miller about their It Gets Better project and their book on the topic (transcript of the interview here).
 
To quote Terry Gross and give a background if you are unfamiliar:

The project is a collection of videos on their website and YouTube channel addressed to teenagers who are bullied because they are or are perceived as gay, lesbian, bi or transgendered. On the videos, people share their own stories of being bullied and then urge teens to hang in there because things will get better.

Savage and Miller founded the project after reading about two 15-year-olds who were bullied at school and then hanged themselves. Savage and Miller made the first video, in which they talked about how they were bullied in school and how their lives got better, much better. They found each other; they adopted a son.

When they launched the website, they were hoping to get 100 video submissions, but the website went viral, and before the end of the first week, they had 1,000 videos. Now they have a book version of their project, collecting some of the stories from their website. The book is titled "It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying and Creating a Life Worth Living."

Then Gross asked for their favorite ones and Savage described the following (emphasis mine):

One of my favorites is by a lesbian Latina poet in the Bronx named Gabrielle Rivera, who said – really contradicted the message in a powerful way. She writes: As a gay woman of color, I just want to let the youth know that it kind of doesn't get better.

All these straight, rich celebrities, I'm not even going to name them, they can tell you that it gets better because they've got money and people don't care what they do. They're coming from a good place and stuff, and I appreciate that.

But I'm going to be real because I live this life and I'm not rich and I'm brown, and I probably look like most of you. It doesn't get better, but what happens is this: You get stronger.

And I thought that was so tremendous when I watched Gabrielle Rivera's video because it's really the Latina, lesbian, Bronx way of saying it gets better: You get stronger.

I think that speaks to a lot of people and is such a universally awesome message. So wherever you are this week if you're having a tough time or know someone who is: You get stronger.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 11, 2011 10:25 pm

    I would say you get wiser, or you develop different coping strategies. You better understand 12 dimensional chess the 18th time you realize you're in a shit game, and the players all play the same playbook but the faces are different. It doesn't necessarily mean you get stronger or things get better or you learn the tricks. If the same thing keeps happening to you over and over, it may very well beat you down. It also may smarten you up to the next time a punch is coming, you may react faster to getting hit. Or you may get your clock cleaned, again.Thanks for this. If only you knew how I spent my day today. jc

  2. April 14, 2011 8:48 pm

    Update on previous situation: it got better. The shit hit the fan and it's being cleaned up now. I found someone who has my back. jc

  3. April 15, 2011 12:05 am

    Glad to hear it, really 🙂

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