Wednesday, October 06, 2010

In Praise of Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" Project

Unless I count my little sister and Alex (the cat who owns me), I think I have been bullied by only one person  It wasn't due to my race, religion, ethnic origin, or sexual orientation. It was because I was younger and smaller than the bully.

I was about eight or nine years old and I walked the three or so blocks from my house to Louisville's Stephen Foster Elementary School.

The bully would intercept me when I was about a block from school. The first couple of times, he pushed me up againt a tree beside the sidewalk and demanded my twenty-five cents lunch money. (Remember: this as about 1954 and everything was less expensive than today). That time I wasn't intimidated and swung by book bag at him. When he jumped back, I ran as fast as my chubby 8-year-old legs would carry me and joined up with a group of other kids who were walking to school.

The next time the bully stuck, he increased the violence. He came up from behind me, tripped me, and put his foot on my back, pushing me down onto the sidewalk until I reached in my pocket and gave him my quarter. Of course, when I got to Stephen Foster, I told my teacher and together we went to the office and told the principle. I don't remember what, if anything, happened regarding that report.

There were several other times that year when I was confronted by the same kid. By the last time, he had graduated to a pocket knife and I carried a lunch box and no money. The bully wasn't happy about not getting my quarter, but I don't believe he was prepared to stab or cut me with that knife.Besides, I swung and hit the dude with my Roy Rogers' lunch box.

That's my story about being confronted by a bully -- or, maybe I should call him a highwayman:

As most of us have, I have been concerned with the number of suicides in recent months comiited by you gay people in response to being bullied. As I have read and seen the news stories, I have been sick that these young people have been pushed to the point of taking their own lives. I want to confront the bullies and comfort the bullied.

Yesterday, I encountered a video from Dan Savage's It Gets Better Project. I don't know how many folks have made videos, but I am impressed by the number, the words said, and the movement that Mr. Savage has begun.

Below are a few of the It Gets Better Project videos. made by some of my favorite people. Please watch as many as you can. And share them with others!


  1. Bullying is a terrible thing. Having been bullied myself when I was young I found the only way to combat it was to stand up to the bullies - they are basically cowards!

  2. I guess I was fortunate, because I can't remember being bullied. I was teased a few times, a mean act, but not serious damage.

    My son was small in stature when he was young, and he was frequently bullied by a neighbor kid who tore up and strew his papers around while Scott was trying to deliver them. Even though that was painful for him, physically, emotionally and financially, it pales in comparison to what is going on today.

    I can't believe how cruel people can be. It just breaks my heart.

    What has happened to us?

  3. This is very well done! I did not know about this project. Thank you for sharing your story, the videos, and the Internet links.

  4. I am not gay but as a child I was bullied a lot. It made me suicidal at times even. I can understand the torment and feeling like an outsider. The experience of being bullied has made me more sympathetic toward other "outsiders". It does get better as you leave high school. I hated school as a kid but I loved college.

  5. My son made a video for the project. I am so proud of all of them for sharing their experiences and letting others know that things get better. Great blog, Nick. Hugs, Laurie

  6. I am saddened to hear about all of these recent suicides and the bullying.

    I believe in a benevolent God that loves everyone. Maybe I am wrong, but all people should be loved and respected no matter what.

    Thanks Nick for such a timely post.

  7. Akelamalu: I agree with you regarding standing up to bullies, who I really believe are quite cowardly folk. Perhaps, however, there is a difference between when we were bullied and bullying today. Until quite recently, bullying came from one or a few kids. Now, with technology such as the Internet, Facebook, texting, videoing, etc., bullies may consist of hundreds or even thousands

  8. Lynilu : The kid who bullied Scott probably did so because Scott was smaller—the action of a coward. I don’t understand the cruelness either.

    I heard a interview with one of the college girls who joined in bullying the young musician. She said (1) she didn’t mean to hurt him; (2) everybody else was doing it; (2) she did it because it was “fun” to do. I think we can ignore 1 and 2; if she thinks what she did was fun, I’d hate to be her dog or cat…or child.

  9. Abby: Thank you. I hope you’ve clicked over and experienced some more videos.

  10. Liberality: I am so glad the bullying ended when you left high school. That’s a good point you make: bullies are basically immature.

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  12. Laurie: I congratulate your son from taking part in this project. Please pass that and my blessings on to him, my dear friend.

  13. Finding Pam: You’re welcome, my friend. Wouldn’t this world be so much of a better place if people understood and practiced unconditional love (agape)?

  14. Susan: thank you, my friend. Congratulations on your new blog.

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