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It Gets Better

Overall, I’m a big fan of the It Gets Better project. I think it's an incredibly important message to send out into the world, if only because there are so many kids who really, really need to hear it, and get a little strength and encouragement from it. The world isn't an easy place, and I know the truth really is that — as a wise friend of mine expains — it gets complicated. Overall, though, I’m for the effort, and regularly touched by the variety of ways I see the idea repeated, and the variety of people who have taken the time to repeat it. Tonight I found this one by Murray Hill and friends, and it was immediately my favorite:

What I love about this is that it's joyous. Not glib, not maudlin, not too specific — just filled with spirit and energy and good will. This is what would have really reached me when I was young: the site of that huge, happy, heterogenous, homosexual crowd all having fun in one place without it seeming weird or scary or dull or over-the-top. In fact, it captures the spirit of many, many nights I’ve spent out at shows or little clubs over the years, and it makes me happy to see it.

On the whole, I’m not a happy person. Believe it or not, I keep a tight lid on most of my moping and griping. The honest truth is that my baseline emotion is one of frustration and futility, peppered with a generous dose of poor self-confidence. You know what, though? The gay thing has never been the cause of that. Sure there were scattered moments of anxiety during the coming-out years, but never despair about that part of the equation. As the realization that I was gay crept up on me, I never thought I was wrong or bad because of it. It was just stressful to figure out how to change course.

I cling to the few and fleeting things in life that make me feel really happy, and the truth is that a lot of them connect to being gay, and I couldn't be more grateful for that. Whether it's been the love of interesting men, the comaraderie of friends, the link to a variety of subcultures that resonate with me, or even the increasingly outdated thrill of being a little outré, there's a lot about being gay that makes parts of my life good. There's been plenty of pain in life over the years, but the gayness — the sexual identity, the cultural identity, and the permission to figure out my own way in the absence of an established model to follow — has generally been the salve, not the sore.

I’ve been lucky in that I was able to stay below the radar (mostly) before coming out on my own terms, and then I found that no one loved me any less, or thought any worse of me. Because of that fortune, it's a little hard to really and truly understand what it's like for kid trying to figure all this out in worse circumstances. But you know what? That just makes me even more sure that every kid deserves the love and support that I realized was there all along. And they deserve to find themselves — if that’s what they want — in a roomful of energetic, interesting people not just telling them — but showing them — that it gets better.

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