|Dan Savage was bullied as a younger guy. He has always been pretty sensitive to the aggressive act provided by people you may know, or even consider friends. Dan grew up and became a syndicated author for several papers and magazines, I became familiar with him reading his column in the Onion. Dan is gay and he is not happy with the latest rise in teen bashing and suicide of gay or perceived gay young adults. In 2010 he founded It Gets Betteran organization that supports young people who are becoming clear on their own identities and tells them, it gets better, so hang in there.We are in Madison and we are a pretty tolerant society, but even here young people feel the weight of it all on their shoulders. Imagine the strain of becoming an adult, developing your personality, and growing up, which we all have gone through, but add the stress of having to come out of the closet too. The fear of your parents disowning you, your friends leaving you, and team mates shunning you. I have a friend, a former team-mate who came out after college. We actually didn’t get along that well to begin with, that’s neither here nor there, but I am always bothered with the thought that he didn’t trust the team enough to be honest with us. Then again, looking back, I see how hard that must have been for him.There are 2 college gymnasts, pretty prominent in the gymnastics world who have recently come out and have joined Savage with It Gets Better. Ben Strauss – MI, and Evan Heiter – WA not only took the brave steps to come out but to stand up and help others who are struggling to do the same. “Once you surround yourself with people who love you, people who support you, you realize that those other people don’t really matter, and never really did.” Says Ben Strauss. See Ben and Evan on youtube here. The support is the key. I am not saying we need to go out and march in a parade, I’m saying that it needs to be better for kids who are growing up. It’s tough enough for teens at that stage, they shouldn’t have this extra worry.
I hope with Savage’s program and maybe the increased tolerence that we are seeing across the country (almost catching up to the rest of the world…Go USA) that maybe one day kids will be comfortable being themselves, trusting their team mates and parents to love them no matter what.