Columnist Dan Savage discusses LGBT suicide prevention at University of Oklahoma lecture

Dan Savage's chief aim in the creation of the It Gets Better campaign was to save lives. But make no mistake — it was always an act of aggression.
by Silas Allen Published: December 1, 2012
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Dan Savage's chief aim in the creation of the It Gets Better campaign was to save lives.

But make no mistake — it was always an act of aggression.

“We're going to talk to you kids whether you want us to or not,” he said.

Savage, an author and columnist who writes and speaks about gay and transgender issues, spoke at the University of Oklahoma on Thursday night. Savage launched the campaign in 2010 with his partner, Terry Miller.

The project began as a small series of online videos targeted at bullied gay and transgender teenagers, and quickly developed into an international movement. The project aims to show those teenagers that a happy, fulfilling future is possible, even if it seems out of reach at the time. Today, the series includes an estimated 80,000 videos, including entries from President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The project came about after an Indiana teenager committed suicide after being bullied.

Billy Lucas, 15, hanged himself inside his family's barn after being taunted by tormentors who perceived him to be gay.

Teenagers in that situation are uniquely vulnerable, Savage said, because they don't always have support from their parents or other family members. If a teenager is bullied because of religion, race or social class, they can generally look to their parents for support and see them as examples of people who have found themselves in a similar situation and gone on to find fulfillment.

That isn't the case with gay teenagers, he said, whose parents may be less willing to accept them and may even participate in the bullying themselves.

The campaign seeks to offer a support group to young people who may not have access to one otherwise — often against the wishes of that teenager's parents.

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by Silas Allen
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Silas Allen is a news reporter for The Oklahoman. He is a Missouri native and a 2008 graduate of the University of Missouri.
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