A couple of weeks ago, we featured the story of Twin Cities’ Fox9 anchor Jason Matheson who is on “Good Day Minnesota” and his revelation about being bullied as a kid. I had a short email exchange with Matheson and he said that he’d really been empowered by that experience and wasn’t planning on staying quiet anymore.
At about the same time, Dan Savage of Seattle’s The Stranger (and a widely-read syndicated column and punditry career) launched his “It gets better project” with his husband to talk to young people who may feel isolated and victimized to let them know that it gets better. The project has become a huge success and inspired a number of other people to talk about their experiences.
I wanted to point to two other examples of journalists who were inspired by the efforts:
– Brian Moylan at Gawker is known for his his snarky (and often brilliant) takes on pop-culture. But his story What’s It Like to Be a Gay Teen was a real change of pace and he did a great job of talking about the impact of bullying.
I don’t know if he was out to his parents or if he was out in high school or how he was treated before landing at Rutgers, but I know from personal experience that graduating high school and going to college is the one thing many gay teens have to look forward to. Many are just waiting for their parents to drive away with an empty minivan, so that they can go into the dorm and come out for the first time in their lives. They imagine college as this magical place where everyone will love and accept them and they might even have the chance to meet people like them, or go on a date with a cute boy (or girl) and do all the silly, mundane things that college kids do the world over.
We still don’t know much about what happened at Rutgers, but based on Clementi’s roommate Dharun Ravi’s Tweets and Facebook page and Clementi’s posts on a gay message board, the environment at school doesn’t seem very supportive. In fact, it was so unsupportive that Ravi and his friends rallied around to broadcast Clementi’s most intimate moments on the internet and mocked him for them. How hard it must be to find out that the kids at college are just as cruel as the kids in high school.
– NLGJA Treasurer Trey Graham of National Public Radio (and Washington’s City Paper and WETA-TV) has his script for Savage’s project–plus some great pictures–posted on NPR’s website. Trey’s an incredibly gifted and funny writer and that comes out in his script:
I had glasses. I read a lot. I did theater. And sports, I wasn’t so good at.
So yeah. School was rough, pretty much from the point that my genius classmates realized what “Trey” rhymed with. And that “Trey” was just one syllable away from “Tracy.” I heard all that, and more.
I got picked on. I got mocked. I got a little scar on my chin when a bully turned my desk over in study hall, with me in it, and my face hit the floor. That was seventh grade.
But you know what? It gets better.