Entertainment » Books

It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating A Life Worth Living

by Kevin Taft
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Mar 22, 2011
It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating A Life Worth Living

After the rash of suicides by gay teenagers (or perceived gay teenagers) in the fall of last year, sex columnist Dan Savage and his partner Terry Miller started a YouTube campaign that became a phenomenon. The two simply posted a video about their experiences in high school as gay teens and then illustrated how their life changed and got better. This video became a cultural touchstone and brought out thousands of celebrities who posted their own videos about their similar experiences, all in support for any teen who had been struggling with their sexuality and the torment of their peers. Soon enough, everyday folk were making their own videos about bullying and coming out all with the same message: It Gets Better.

Taking those stories and turning them into essays, the new book It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living is a touching and inspirational book along the lines of something like "Chicken Soup for the Soul: Happy and Healthy Gay People."

The book is straightforward: Each "chapter" is written by a different person, usually some sort of successful person in the media spotlight, who went through what most gay kids go through: teasing, tormenting, bullying, ostracism, and heartache. Some were kicked out by their parents when they came out, others had to suffer the threats and attacks by other students every day of their high school career. But all of them came out the other side with amazing lives and uplifting stories to tell. For example, one young woman now choreographs for Lady Gaga. (A.Y Daring) Another is a Senator (Al Franken). Many are pop recording artists (Sia and Darren Hayes) and many more are just men and women who have persevered, established successful careers, and enjoy healthy loving relationships and families of their own.

A touching and inspirational book along the lines of something like "Chicken Soup for the Soul: Happy and Healthy Gay People."

The stories are varied and are sure to hit people in different ways. One man, a guy into leather and kink, was treated very cruelly by the boys at the boarding school that he went to in the 80's. He was suicidal, but stuck it out. As soon as he got out, he went to UCLA and his life changed. And when he went back to his class reunion, he was met with love and warmth by the very same people who picked on him in high school. One even said, "You know what? You turned out really good despite all the challenges we gave you. And you know what, if I was gay, I'd do ya."

This is just one example of the many essays that include other top names such as Suze Orman, Tim Gunn, Bravo's Andy Cohen, musical artist Meshell Ndegeocello, and support from straight counterparts like Hilary Clinton and President Obama.

While quite a few of these "essays" were taken from the videos that these people posted, it's a nice way to compile the stories and read them piecemeal for inspiration. As someone who has come out, it's refreshing to see the positive side of what is a scary time in young people's lives, which is clearly something many of us can relate to.

But for those kids going through it now, the ones that need help and support immediately, these admissions of support and love will only serve to keep them going even when times get tough. Because things can and will get better. And with this collection, they might be able to find it in themselves to live on and prosper. Which really, is the best revenge anyway, right?



Tuesday, March 22, 7PM
Barnes & Noble Tribeca
97 Warren St. (at Greenwich St.)
New York, NY 10007

Friday, March 25, 12 NOON
San Francisco State University
Jack Adams Hall
1600 Holloway Ave
San Francisco, CA 94132

Wednesday, March 23, 7PM
Unabridged Bookstore
Nettelhorst School Auditorium
3252 North Broadway
Chicago, IL 60657

Tuesday, March 29, 7:30PM
Town Hall
1119 8th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101
Books sold by Elliott Bay

Thursday, March 24, 8PM
Renberg Theater
1125 N McCadden Pl
West Hollywood, CA 90038
Books sold by Book Soup

Thursday, April 21, 7:30PM
Powell’s Books
1005 West Burnside
Portland, OR 97209

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to 'Star Wars' and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg.


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