It’s been more than a year since Dan Savage created the first It Gets Better video in response to a rash of young people – many of them queer – who had taken their own lives. Since then, countless people, from celebrities to everyday people, have made their own videos, explaining, confessing, supporting and expressing their own stories, all in the name of providing support for queer youth.
Here in Halifax, prideHealth, a program for the rainbow community maintained by the Capital Health District Authority (CDHA) along with the IWK Children’s Hospital, is putting out its own It Gets Better video, which will launch this Friday.
The creation of the video was put into motion after Cybelle Rieber, coordinator of prideHealth, received an email from a staff member who wondered if CDHA could produce one. A call was sent out to staff and volunteers, along with a questionnaire, asking people about their own experiences, as well as for any advice they would like to share. “It’s really meaningful for people,” says Rieber. “It provides them a venue to reach out to young people and to share their story in a public venue where people are going to see it and hear it. And be proud of who we are.”
Since the inception of It Gets Better in 2010, some critics have stated that, in focusing on the future, the campaign doesn’t address the current state of affairs for queer youth. For Rieber, it was important to approach this in the video. “One of the questions we ask people is, ‘What resources do you know are available in our community?’ so [the video will] talk about resources here in Nova Scotia, which I think is great.”
For Rieber, the message contained within the video is meant not only for queer youth, but for people of all ages. “It’s about talking to our peers, talking to the people we work with. We’re hoping to get people talking within the organization.” And talk is good and plentiful, according to her. “People are really passionate. They want this opportunity; they want to be able to talk about their stories. They know that it’s going to be shown within CDHA and IWK; they know that it’s gonna be online, on YouTube and on the It Gets Better website. They want to share their story; they want people to know that it gets better.”
One person who wanted to share her story is Maura Donovan. She works at the IWK as the coordinator of a support program for new parents. “I hope that young people in Nova Scotia will see all the adults who are from the same place as they are from and who are encouraging them not to give up and be proud of who they are,” she says. Donovan is not only one of the founders of Halifax’s Youth Project, an organization that works with queer youth, she is also a mother. “I can see that our culture is still very much training young children to believe that boys are a certain way and that girls are a certain way and anything else is not acceptable,” she points out. “And that is a huge piece of what happens with the bullying and the homophobia and the transphobia and the intolerance that starts to show itself in different ways in school. I think we need to make a commitment as adults, all of us, to make it better for young people now.”
December 15th – Edit: The event has been postponed until January. Stay tuned to Down East for more information when the new date is announced.