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Posts for October, 2012

His California Reparative Therapist Said He’d Be Straight in Six Weeks

Jim Burroway

October 8th, 2012

Mathew Shurka’s parents flew him to California for “treatment” when he came out to his father at sixteen.

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“To see that the government is really taking action to put a stop to this, especially for minors who are usually put into this therapy because of their parents, is a great thing. I’m really happy to see that those kinds of actions are being taken.”

An “I’m A Mormon” Campaign You’re Not Likely To See On Television

Jim Burroway

April 9th, 2012

It’s an “It Gets Better” video, featuring several Brigham Young University students who proclaim “I’m a Mormon” and “I’m gay/lesbian/bisexual.” But as you can see, it was only after a great deal of struggle and shame before they could come to that place of being able to accept themselves.

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If you’re a BYU student, you can find out more about the campus gay-straight alliance here.

“It Gets Better” Needs Some Muscle Behind It

Jim Burroway

October 27th, 2011

Canadian comedian and commentator Rick Mercer responds to Jamie Hubley’s suicide:

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Dan Savage agrees:

So: yes to that assembly, yes to confronting the kids who abused Jamie Hubley. Since the beginning of the project I’ve called for bullies to be arrested and prosecuted. If it’s a crime for a 16-year-old kid to beat up a little old lady in a shopping mall, it’s a crime for for a 16-year-old kid to beat up queer kid in a high school. Parents whose kids are being assaulted need to go to the police first, school administrators second.

GOP Pols Appear In “It Gets Better” Video

Jim Burroway

October 25th, 2011
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Last July when the entire Massachusetts congressional delegation — with the exception of lone Republican Sen. Scott Brown — released an “It Gets Better” video, Dan Savage noticed the conspicuous omission. “Not a single GOP elected official can bring himself or herself to make a video, or participate in the creation of one,” he wrote at the time. I thought that couldn’t be true, and I challenged our readers to find that GOP elected official. You couldn’t.

Now, happily, that is corrected. Ten our of the fifteen-members New Jersey congressional delegation, including three Republicans, have issued a video for the “It Gets Better” campaign. Zach Ford reminds us that the three Republicans, Reps. Leonard Lance, Frank LoBiondo, and Jon Runyan, are not pro-gay by any means — two of them voted against DADT repeal, all three support DOMA, and none have supported legislation that might actually make things better for gay people  – this nevertheless is clearly a step in the right direction, and the three Congressmen are to be commended for finally making the right move.

Iowa Man Describes the Horrors of Home-Grown Ex-Gay Therapy

Jim Burroway

October 7th, 2011
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Samuel Brinton, a student at Kansas State University, describes growing up under his Southern Baptist missionary father, who beat him, burned him and shocked him with electricity to try to change him from being gay after Samuel came out at the age of twelve. The video is compelling.

We first heard from Samuel about a year ago when he first talked about his experiences for an “It Gets Better” video for the web site I’m From Driftwood.

Update (10/10): Wayen Besen at Truth Wins Out posted this comment yesterday on Towleroad:

Truth Wins Out has tried verify this story for more than a month. Our phone calls have gone unanswered. We hope that the full range of facts can come to light. For example, who was the specific therapist who performed these abusive actions?

We are always pleased when “ex-gay” survivors are brave enough to come foward and share their experiences. We look forward to Samuel providing further information in the very near future.

Plane To Fly “It Gets Better” Banner for Ex-Gay Conference, but Ex-Gays Won’t See It

Jim Burroway

September 9th, 2011

Exodus International is scheduled to conduct one of its Love Won Out ex-gay infomercial’s tomorrow at a Houston-area church. According to The Advocate, the It Gets Better Project will hire an airplane to fly overhead for an ex-gay conference near Houston tomorrow with a message saying that you can’t simply “pray the gay away.” I think that sounds like a great idea, except:

Exodus International’s Love Won Out conference is taking place this Saturday at the Sugar Creek Baptist Church, located near Houston. The plane is scheduled to fly around downtown Houston at noon Saturday …

Get a map and an alarm clock, fellas. The plane may be headed for downtown Houston, but Sugar Creek Baptist is nearly 25 miles away in Sugar Land. And everyone will already be safely ensconced inside the church at that hour, while nobody will be anywhere close to downtown Houston on a Saturday at noon (the weekend forecast: a “pleasant” 95 degrees and probably 195% humidity, with an air quality alert due to high ozone). If a plane flies a banner over a deserted downtown and nobody sees it, does it still send a message?

Why can’t anyone fly the plane over Sugar Land at 7:30 a.m. as people are pulling into the parking lot?

Ever Wonder Whether Those “It Gets Better” Videos Have Ever Helped Anyone?

Jim Burroway

September 9th, 2011

This video and this video helped the young man you see below, who says thanks:

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No GOP IGB Videos?

Jim Burroway

July 29th, 2011

Dan Savage reacted to personal attacks from the National Republican Senatorial Committee over the “It Gets Better” campaign by saying that “not a single GOP elected official can bring himself or herself to make a video.” I actually found that to be very shocking. Sure, we know that things are very bleak on the national level. I can’t think of any GOP member of Congress who has participated in or made a video. But what about at the state level? Any elected GOP officials in a state legislature or executive branch? What about the county level? Mayor of a major city? Township trustee? Village council person?

Dogcatcher?

I’m sure there’s some out there. I can’t believe that there is “not a single GOP elected official” in a video. So here’s a crowd-sourcing challenge: go find them. Just three rules: 1) they have to be identified by name in the video, 2) they must have a speaking part, and 3) those holding office as a result of a nonpartisan election (i.e. their party affiliation did not appear on the ballot, as is sometimes the rule for local positions) do not qualify.

GOP Group Attacks “It Gets Better” Campaign

Jim Burroway

July 28th, 2011
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Last Friday, the entire Massachusetts — minus one — posted this YouTube video for the “It Gets Better” campaign against LGBT bullying and suicide. Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) was conspicuously missing. According to Marie Diamond at Think Progress:

Sen. Brown (R-MA) was invited to be in the video, but declined. When asked about the decision, Brown spokesman Colin Reed said it was because Brown’s “main focus right now is on creating jobs.”

The LGBT leaders, including two Massachusetts lawmakers, agreed that Sen. Brown’s refusal to participate in the video sends a disturbing message to the staggering number of LGBT youth who are being bullied and harassed every day. They also said the snub was simply the latest in Brown’s long record of “being anti-LGBT friendly,” in the words of Jennifer Chrisler.

LGBT activists and political leaders in the state recalled instances in which Brown worked against marriage equality and anti-discrimination efforts. That criticism has gotten under the skin of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, whose communcations director Brian Walsh went on the attack personally against Dan Savage:

If, as the old saying goes, you’re known by the company you keep, than the voters of Massachusetts deserve to know who Democrat Party operatives are teaming up with to spread outrageous attacks on Scott Brown’s character.

It’s truly reached a new level of desperation in their efforts to tear down Scott Brown, but we look forward to hearing whether state and national Democrat leaders agree with Dan Savage’s long history of lewd, violent and anti-Christian rhetoric. Given their press conference call today, one has to presume at this point that they do.

Savage responded:

I am not the IGB project. The project has had the reach and impact that it’s had thanks to tens of thousands of people from all over the world who’ve participated. [A]nd no one who participates is required to crawl into bed with me. ..:

Savage notes that among those who have participated from all walks of life from all over the world, “not a single GOP elected official can bring himself or herself to make a video, or participate in the creation of one. No GOP elected official can risk being seen letting bullied LGBT kids know that life isn’t high school and that it will get better for them.”

Colbert Reports “It Gets Better”

Jim Burroway

July 21st, 2011

Steven Colbert slowly sheds his character to tell teens that “it gets better”:

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Red Sox Releases “It Gets Better” Video

Jim Burroway

July 1st, 2011

As promised, the Red Sox video was released this morning:

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Chicago Cubs: It Gets Better

Jim Burroway

June 20th, 2011
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It’s worth noting that Cubs’ co-owner Laura Ricketts is an out Lesbian. Your Chicago Cubs are now the second major league baseball team (and, I believe, the second major league sports team overall) to produce a video. San Francisco Giants released theirs three weeks ago. Boston Red Sox have also announced that they will release a video soon.

Red Sox To Produce “It Gets Better” Video

Jim Burroway

June 4th, 2011

Sam Maden

The Boston Red Sox have announced that they will become the third Major League Baseball team to produce a video for the “It Gets Better” anti-bullying campaign:

We are proud of dedicated Red Sox fans like 12-year-old Sam Maden who have taken the courageous step of publicly standing up against bullying of LGBT youth,” said Susan Goodenow, Senior Vice President/Public Affairs and Marketing for the Red Sox, in a statement. “The Red Sox have frequently done PSA videos, or public service announcement videos, on important social issues. We are currently producing an “It Gets Better” video to support the It Gets Better campaign to stop bullying of LGBT youth and teen suicides. We hope that when it is released it will both reflect our continued commitment to be active participants in the community and help advance the efforts of Sam and others to stop bullying. Our team stands for respect and inclusion – there is no place for discrimination or acts of hatred in Red Sox Nation.”

The announcement came after 12-year-old Sam Maden started an online petition asking the ball club to produce a video. Maden began the campaign after his seventh-grade teacher asked him to come up with a project that could “make a difference” in the world. More than 9,000 fans signed the petition.

This announcement not only demonstrates the power of one person to make a difference, but it also shows that the BoSox can still beat the Yankees.

Chicago Cubs To Produce “It Gets Better” Video

Jim Burroway

June 3rd, 2011

How about this announcement?

The Chicago Cubs will produce an “It Gets Better” video, which takes a stand against anti-gay bullying and homophobia. The project has been in the works for more than a week and is set to be filmed after the team returns to Wrigley Field from its current 10-game road trip.

…”The Cubs applaud the Giants for their stand against anti-LGBT bullying. Bullying of anyone for any reason is unacceptable,” said Laura Ricketts, Cubs owner and board member. “We are proud to join the Giants in taking a stand against bullying and encourage other professional sports organizations to do the same.”

Wrigly Field is located just a few blocks away from Chicago’s Boys Town neighborhood, and has been a financial supporter of many LGBT organizations and charities in the Chicago area. In 2010, Laura Ricketts, an openly gay member of the Ricketts family who owns the Cubs, and retired shortstop and first baseman Ernie “Mr. Cub” Banks rode on the team’s float in Chicago’s Pride Parade. The Cubs will host “OUT at Wrigly” on July 17 when the Cubs take on the Florida Marlins. Maybe the Marlins can have a video out by then.

Earlier this week, the San Francisco Giants released their video for “It Gets Better,” the anti-bullying campaign begun by Dan Savage and Terry Miller. A Boston Red Sox fan, twelve-year-old Sam Maden, has launched a campaign to get his favorite team to make a video as well.

San Francisco Giants: “It Gets Better”

Jim Burroway

June 1st, 2011

There’s hardly a gay male alive who wasn’t tormented by jocks while in school, which is why this video by the San Francisco Giants so incredibly moving. The video features four current players — pitchers Matt Cain and Sergio Romo, outfielder Andres Torres and Cy Young Award winning pitcher Barry Zito – and Giants hitting coach Hensley “Bam Bam” Muelens.

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The NBA “Gets Better”

Jim Burroway

May 7th, 2011

That Chrome/”It Gets Better” ad premiered during Glee last week. Of course, Glee is gay friendly and has a large gay-friendly audience. I suppose it could be argued that this was the audience least in need of the message. A lot of gay kids who are picked on for being gay probably wouldn’t be caught dead watching the show or admitting they like it. And, as an indirect audience for the message, a lot of bullies probably aren’t fans either.

Yesterday, the ad went to a much wider audience, appearing on ESPN during the National Basketball Association playoffs. (I would have written NBA but, admit it, many of you would not have known what that was.)

Exodus President opposes “It Gets Better” campaign

Jim Burroway and I both independently responded to Alan Chambers' criticism of the Google Chrome It Gets Better ad. While we share the same view, our commentaries come from slightly different perspectives and are both presented here.

Timothy Kincaid

May 5th, 2011

What kind of person would oppose a campaign to combat suicide among gay kids? At what point does one become to opposed to “the homosexual agenda” that they object to telling a kid that the despair they are feeling at that moment will pass, that the oppression they are experiencing will end, that it gets better?

Sadly, there are those with whom we share the planet who are so invested in Culture War and in “us v. them” mentality that they lose sight altogether of the humanity of those with whom they disagree.

This occurs on both sides.

When gay people cannot see religious people in any terms other than “haters” or “Nazis” or when conservatives see gay people only as hedonistic and “enemies of the family”, it justifies any mistreatment that they wish to dole out. Those who differ are no longer people to be persuaded but are instead dehumanized creatures which are deserving of misery, pain, and death. One need no longer keep the instinct to do evil at bay, but can unleash all of one’s inner demons of insecurity and anger and contempt and hatred and care nothing about the consequences. They deserve it.

But usually kids are off limits. Even when throwing intolerance and hate at the “intolerant haters” on the other side, few would go so far as to seek to harm children.

So it shocked me that Alan Chambers, the president of the ex-gay umbrella group Exodus International, would condemn the It Gets Better ad aired by Google Chrome on Tuesday’s episode of GLEE. This program’s goal is clear: discourage suicide, give a message of hope, tell kids to stay alive until it gets better.

But Chambers opposes this campaign, and especially Disney’s lending of Woody to give a message of support (Christian Post):

“Children all over the world, including my two children are fans of ‘Toy Story’ and to see a character like that endorsing something that at this point children have no need to know about, it’s disappointing,” he told The Christian Post.

Chambers, who overcame homosexuality and is now a father of two, suspects that if the commercial airs while he and his children are watching a show and “if they happen to see that and ask questions and if they get the full understanding of what the commercial is actually about, we will have to have the conversation. It’s not something I plan to talk to my kids, 5 and 6, about.”

But it isn’t just Woody’s image that has upset Alan. He disagrees with Woody’s message.

Alan Chambers doesn’t want gay kids to know that it gets better. He doesn’t want them to be aware that Anne Hathaway and President Obama and, yes, Woody all think that they are fine just as they are. He wants them to believe that if they accept themselves and love themselves as gay people then it doesn’t get better; it gets worse.

For organizations like Exodus International, which has thousands of men and women like me who have lived a gay life, it obviously didn’t get better living a gay life for them.

Alan’s message to bullied teens is this: the bullies are right. You are broken and unless you follow the dictates of my beliefs then you will be miserable “living a gay life”. The only way for it to get better is to join Exodus and live a life of struggle and celibacy and eternal hoping for the miraculous.

I was hopeful when Exodus dropped the “Day of Truth”, their school based program for condemning gay students. Alan recognized that this program encouraged and endorsed bullying and – at that time – resolved not to contribute to the problem.

I’m saddened that his resolve seems to have disappeared.

Grab a tissue

Timothy Kincaid

May 3rd, 2011

Google is running the following ad tonight during GLEE. You might want to take a moment to grab a tissue before you watch it.

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Obamas Speak Out Against Bullying

Jim Burroway

March 9th, 2011
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President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle will host an anti-bullying conference at the Whte House tomorrow which will be streamed live at WhiteHouse.gov. The conference includes teachers, students, and community leaders, and will include online live chats. In preparation for the conference, the President and First Lady recorded this Facebook message.

You can submit questions here, and you can RSVP for a “Facebook live” chat here. There’s also more information at StopBullying.gov.

Last October, President Obama released a video for the “It Gets Better” campaign, aimed at stemming the epidemic of youth suicides brought on by bullying.

Born This Way

Jim Burroway

March 9th, 2011
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CNN profiled an interesting blog called Born This Way. Paul V., who created the blog acknowledges, “Yes, I know – the awesome Lady Gaga is calling her new CD this as well. But that name and this idea has been brewing in my head for a long, long time, and I finally got off my ass to at least start the project here.” The photo/essay project invites readers to submit childhood photos and pictures reflecting their earliest memories of how they expressed themselves in unique and foretelling ways. “Nurture allows what nature endows,” he reiterates, and his blog is a great participatory project with the goal of showing kids that being different does not make them a freak. It makes them beautiful.

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