“It gets better” (if you’re lucky)

Over the past few weeks, the It Gets Better Project has garnered a lot of attention, with some people saying that it’s the best thing since sliced bread and the hope of all LGBT teens, etc etc. The goal is to make youtube videos to show at-risk-for-suicide LGBT teens that “it gets better,” when you’re out of high school everything improves, that the bullying stops, that life gets better.

Except that’s not always the case. If you’re lucky, it is. If you’re male, cis, white, and “only” gay [with a good helping of being rich] you have a chance of life improving. If you’re female, trans, of color, bi, asexual, intersexed, etc, then … you’re not socially acceptable, and it’s certainly not going to get better all by itself.

Hey, slow it down
Whataya want from me
Whataya want from me
Yeah, I’m afraid
Whataya want from me
Whataya want from me
*

I know what I want from us. I want us to stop lying to teens, to the world, to ourselves. Bullies don’t stop existing on graduation day, they follow us through life.

If you’re disabled, poor, or otherwise socially disadvantaged, you have a hard time making life “better.” Speaking as a person with severe mental illnesses, merely emphasizing that “it gets better” is only going to make some feel worse. Because when it doesn’t get better, and the mocking and the hardships follow you through your life, it feels like it’s your fault, because ~it gets better~ why isn’t it getting better for me oh gods I’m a failure.

There might have been a time
When I would give myself away
(Ooh) Once upon a time
I didn’t give a damn
But now here we are
So whataya want from me
Whataya want from me

There was a time that I didn’t give a damn, because it didn’t impact me. Then I became ill, then I went through that patch of “suicide is the only way I can see this stopping,” then I came out, and suddenly it clicked. These young people, they’re not just “the future,” they are us. They are me, and they are you.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to ignore everything that’s happened in my life, especially in the last three years, and lie to make a point that’s not even correct.

Just don’t give up
I’m workin’ it out
Please don’t give in
I won’t let you down

It messed me up, need a second to breathe
Just keep coming around
Hey, whataya want from me
Whataya want from me

I’m not going to sit here and say, “oh, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem,” like so many are fond of doing. For some people, yes, it is a temporary problem. For others, it’s not. When a person has only experienced years and years of never-ending escalating abuse and torture for something they can’t change, and our culture approves, I can’t say that it’s necessarily a “temporary” problem. When a person is mentally ill, it’s not a “temporary” problem. When one is part of a socially disadvantaged oppressed group, it’s not a “temporary” problem.

To tell someone that it will get better if they only made it better, that’s the ~bootstraps!~ cry of the world’s douches. It once again makes it the victim’s fault, instead of the perpetrator’s fault.

Yeah, it’s plain to see
That baby you’re beautiful
And it’s nothing wrong with you
It’s me, I’m a freak
But thanks for lovin’ me
Cause you’re doing it perfectly

It’s true: there’s nothing wrong with you. It’s not your fault. Don’t let anybody tell you it is, because it’s really not. I promise. It is never your fault for being bullied, for being assaulted or stalked or abused.

But I also sit here and say, “it’s not easy to recognize it.” All my life I blamed myself for being abused, for being assaulted, for being a victim. I’ve spent the last two years in intensive therapy and I still have a hard time believing it. It’s not easy to believe, when the rest of the world in crying in strident harmony that “it’s your fault, if only you changed, if only you weren’t [x] or [y] or [z] then we wouldn’t want to bully you!” It gets beaten into your head, it becomes who you are.

It’s possible to change it, yes, but the road is long, the road is hard, and it sometimes never gets easier.

There might have been a time
When I would let you step away
I wouldn’t even try but I think
You could save my life

There would have been a time. I’m ashamed to say that. But that’s part of being human, a decent human: acknowledging you made fuckups and working to fix them. And here I am, working to fix it.

There’s another reason I’m very against the IGB Project, and that would be its founder, Dan Savage. Dan… is a rude asshole. To some, that’s his appeal, while to others it’s not. I happen to be in the latter category, especially since he’s a transphobic, biphobic, victim-blaming sack of shit who likes to say that rape victims “owe” their partners sex. I absolutely will not sit here and support a project that he, a rich white popular male, made out of his own privilege and refuses to acknowledge that he’s privileged or has done anything wrong.

Just don’t give up
I’m workin’ it out
Please don’t give in
I won’t let you down
It messed me up, need a second to breathe
Just keep coming around
Hey, whataya want from me
Whataya want from me

Sometimes, the best person to work with an at-risk population is a member of said population. I honestly think that this is one of those times. It’s disingenuous for us to allow the popular celebrities to placate the rage that we feel, to allow them to speak for us all, because by their very nature they aren’t us. They are celebrities. We can’t all be famous, we can’t all be rich, and most of us never will be anywhere close to either.

Just don’t give up on me
I won’t let you down
No, I won’t let you down

I won’t let you down. There are options — The Trevor Project being the most famous. There is also RAINN and local LGBT community centers in your area.

I am always available to talk, to help locate crisis help, to help you out of that dark, lonely place where all you can see is the pain. I’m not a trained professional, but I’ve been there, and sometimes the only person that will understand the pain and the terror you’re going through is someone who’s walked that path.

So
Just don’t give up
I’m workin’ it out
Please don’t give in
I won’t let you down
It messed me up, need a second to breathe
Just keep coming around
Hey, whataya want from me

We are trying to work it out. We will work it out — but it takes time. Time that some don’t have. We need to stand up right here, right now, and say that this needs to end. The We Got Your Back Project is one specific organization aimed at doing just that.

There’s more that I wanted to say, but a] this is a deeply hard topic for me to even think about, much less write on, b] my memory decided to go “lol that post you wrote in your head last night on the way home? GONE,” and c] I have a paper I need to write by Monday.

That said, I do intend to cover this more later on.

And to all the LGBT teens and young adults going through bullying, harassment, and that dark path, we stand with you. We support you. I stand with you. If you ever need help, or to talk, or need to comment, please don’t hesitate to email me.

—–

*>Whataya Want From Me, by Adam Lambert