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"Not everybody is Kurt on 'Glee.'"
November 23, 2010 2:29 AM   Subscribe


 
Yay, Pixar! Excellent on so many levels. Still worried about Cars 2, though...
posted by bouvin at 2:58 AM on November 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


It sounds like a lot of people working at Pixar have been on a personal journey where they felt lost for a long time, but were then rescued by a loveable group of ragtag misfits.
posted by him at 3:10 AM on November 23, 2010 [86 favorites]


Something in my eye...
posted by _Lasar at 3:14 AM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


As a straight social misfit, that was something I wish I'd seen as a kid.

I'm amused (or bemused) by the fact that all but two of the guys pinged really loudly on my gaydar, but very, very few of the women did.

Straight guys have gaydar, right?
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 3:25 AM on November 23, 2010 [7 favorites]


Apart from anything else, I'd somehow missed Astro Zombie's incredible comment. Thanks for the linkage.
posted by longtime_lurker at 3:28 AM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Clearly, it's a choice! Just listen to the tales of happiness and support and normalness! Who *wouldn't* want to pick that path? It's full of rainbows and lollipops and happiness! We must keep them from it, at all costs, so we don't have to explain to our children why we're so disgusted with the people around us. And so we don't get just a little bit jealous...
posted by disillusioned at 3:32 AM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


God, I want to work for that company so bad.
posted by jbickers at 3:48 AM on November 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


Pixar IS great. But Dan Savage should get a Nobel Prize for this whole thing.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 4:21 AM on November 23, 2010 [27 favorites]


That was fantastic.

I'm curious...is there a society extant which does not have to relay this message to their young "misfits"? I know we're particularly awful about this here in the US, but I hope somewhere (Scandinavia?) learning you're gay at 11 or 12 or whatever elicits just a shoulder lift and a "fine, you empty the dishwasher yet" or "fine, you playing or not?" from your family and friends.
posted by maxwelton at 4:38 AM on November 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


Straight guys have gaydar, right?

Nope. My peopledar gets better, though. Pings disabled.

[also: mind-blowingly awesome stuff]
posted by Namlit at 4:45 AM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


I get to walk up those nine steps
and open the door
and know that he's home
and I get to kiss him and hug him when I walk in the door
and that brings me so much joy.




How could anyone condemn that, or find anything evil in such a pure, simple and sincere expression of love?
posted by louche mustachio at 4:56 AM on November 23, 2010 [72 favorites]


These really are lovely, caring people. Is it wonder they make such good films? They radiate affection and compassion.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:06 AM on November 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


I get to walk up those nine steps

Yup. That's when I started to tear up.
posted by mmahaffie at 5:13 AM on November 23, 2010 [12 favorites]


> How could anyone condemn that, or find anything evil in such a pure, simple and sincere expression of love?
Religion condemns that. It might be getting better in America, but it seems to be getting worse in religion-dominated countries such as Senegal (~90% Muslim) and Uganda (~85% Christian).
 
posted by querty at 5:16 AM on November 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Some religions condemn it. Some celebrate it. I think if you asked those same Pixar people, you might be surprised by how many got to church. Some, I bet, even got married in a church.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:19 AM on November 23, 2010 [10 favorites]


This is absolutely wonderful. I want to give everyone in that video a big hug. And yeah, the bit where the guy talks about walking up the steps to see his partner is amazing - i've got tears in my eyes here at work.
posted by ukdanae at 5:19 AM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


What what what??? I thought The Incredibles had a conservative message! How could they like the gay people? I'm so confused.
posted by fungible at 5:20 AM on November 23, 2010


I am a big strong manly man and will shed no tears.

But goddamn those nine steps.
posted by nomadicink at 5:21 AM on November 23, 2010 [9 favorites]


This is great. I'm actually really impressed by Pixar for participating in the "It Gets Better" deal. In fact, coming into this video, I had no clue that it was going to have anything to do with the Trevor Project. I assumed it was just going to be a bunch of interviews about the workers at Pixar. But, it was so much better. (No play on title intended)
Thank you, Pixar, for being awesome.
posted by MHPlost at 5:24 AM on November 23, 2010


bouvin: Yay, Pixar! Excellent on so many levels. Still worried about Cars 2, though..


At first, I thought "it gets better" WAS about Cars 2.
posted by dr_dank at 5:28 AM on November 23, 2010 [8 favorites]


i've got tears in my eyes here at work.

I am at home and thus had the luxury of totally losing it.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:32 AM on November 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yeah, full disclosure, I loathe Pixar's movies - way too treacly. But I'll be damned if I didn't tear up at the 9 steps.
posted by bookwo3107 at 5:40 AM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


congratulations. you're gay. woo.
excuse me if i dont stop to see what the fuss is all about but i'll miss my bus.


In the midst of Don't Ask Don't Tell and a noted spike in kids offing themselves because they're gay, these are timely and one of the few things on the internet that's truly useful and very human. It's important.

I'm not gay but I didn't exactly have the easiest time in high school - and I really see the value in having successful, confident adults share their experiences such that kids who are at a low point can look beyond their current situation and see that it does plainly get better, and that they aren't alone.

I can imagine that things aren't as bad now as they were 20 years ago when some of these people were going through their crises (due to the mainstreaming of shows like Glee) but it's still obviously not easy for a lot of people, and bullying and ostracision still exists.

I thought this was great, and made me feel a bit better about the world in general this morning.
posted by jimmythefish at 5:41 AM on November 23, 2010 [8 favorites]


What what what??? I thought The Incredibles had a conservative message! How could they like the gay people? I'm so confused.

The Incredibles was an homage to the "traditional" family structure (as well as one huge honking metaphor for being trapped in the closet, but I digress).

There's no reason why the gays can't live in that sort of family arrangement, if they so choose. Living in a household where you have two dads/moms is probably a lot more similar to the 'traditional' structure than a household with two opposite-sex parents who both work full-time jobs.

You see, the whole reason why we want gay marriage so badly, is because a lot of us want those traditional family values that the conservatives inexplicably claim we are destroying. The house. The kids. The minivan. The electric tin openers....
posted by schmod at 5:48 AM on November 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


...the nine steps... the hug...
posted by louche mustachio at 5:50 AM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


1. What, another "It gets better post? Why bother?"
2. Oh, Pixar, cool. Maybe they made an animated character tell its "it gets better story." That would be fun.
3. What, no animated character? Bzzzt. Well, maybe I'll keep watching. This is actually pretty good so far.
4. Wow. So awesome. So great. I really hope lots of gay youth out there are watching this and getting some hope.

Additional notes:

I didn't bother to click the link in the upper right for the Barack Obama "It gets better" video. I see not many other people did either.

I really, really, wish Bert and Ernie would do an "It gets better video." If I had the time I'd do it myself, post it to YouTube, and dare the Sesame Street people to take it down.
posted by alms at 5:54 AM on November 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


[A few comments removed. It's okay to just not comment if you don't give a shit.]
posted by cortex at 5:54 AM on November 23, 2010 [27 favorites]


All this from the company Uncle George unloaded to Uncle Steve for a song. Makes me smile.

And it's the kind of thing that gives me hope, overall. Thanks for the link!
posted by dbiedny at 5:57 AM on November 23, 2010



I get to walk up those nine steps

Yup. That's when I started to tear up.


Ditto. Weeping.

(And having lots of complicated thoughts about being bisexual, when so many gay people -- men in particular, from what I can tell -- seem to enjoy telling me I don't exist. Does it get better for us, too?)
posted by kalimac at 6:00 AM on November 23, 2010 [15 favorites]


I love Pixar so much. This only made me love them more.

I wish, though, that I didn't see backlash to those posting a message that "It gets better" who may not be gay but were fat, disabled, on the autistic spectrum or are/were somehow other. While this may have started with gay teens, I think the message can mean a lot to other disaffected, alienated, outcast kids.
posted by inturnaround at 6:17 AM on November 23, 2010 [9 favorites]


That man and his nine steps made me cry at work. Good for him, and good for all of the people in the video... and fuck all of the people who want to make gays feel like they're worthless and should kill themselves, or "just change," or "just be normal."
posted by menschlich at 6:17 AM on November 23, 2010


I really, really, wish Bert and Ernie would do an "It gets better video."
posted by alms at 8:54 AM on November 23 [+] [!]


Unofficial Kermit "It Gets Better."
posted by typewriter at 6:17 AM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]



Yeah, full disclosure, I loathe Pixar's movies - way too treacly. But I'll be damned if I didn't tear up at the 9 steps.


Me too. I can't stand to watch more than a minute or two of their films. But from all reports, they sound like a really good company, and I'm really glad to see them support this. (And yes, I will own up to tearing up a little a couple of times watching -- this had good production values, but they were working with incredibly strong material.)
posted by Forktine at 6:19 AM on November 23, 2010


[monkeyJuice, cut it out. If you've got something you need to complain about, go to Metatalk and do it there.]
posted by cortex at 6:20 AM on November 23, 2010


I know some folks who work at Pixar. They're stand-up people.
posted by kalessin at 6:30 AM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


"the nine steps" is going to be shorthand for describing all that he conveyed about loving his partner and the joy it brings him. It made me think about how I greet my husband each day when he comes home. He may have just reached six years in his relationship, but with that emotion and joy, I bet they cycle through six years several more times.

As for the offer the bearded man made to come through the screen and give people a hug, I'm ready and waiting for that hug. I may not be gay, but damn do I love a good bear hug.

Thank you for this post. It was very moving. I think I'll share it with my 9 year old tonight.
posted by onhazier at 6:30 AM on November 23, 2010 [7 favorites]


What's the homosexual agenda?

Nine fucking steps.
posted by nomadicink at 6:31 AM on November 23, 2010 [12 favorites]


those nine steps

God damn it louche_mustachio. I saw the video last night and completely choked up at the part with that guy. Just reading the transcript of his part made my eyes tear up again.

Can Pixar please just make a movie for once that doesn't make me cry?
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 6:32 AM on November 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


True fact: Astro Zombie's girlfriend laughs uncontrollably at the part about the nine steps.
posted by pracowity at 6:50 AM on November 23, 2010 [12 favorites]


awww, Pixar is apparently made up of adorably queer nerds. I heart it.
posted by LMGM at 6:51 AM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


You're not alone, kalimac. I'm here too. We exist. :)

I loved this video. I loved it nine steps.
posted by custardfairy at 7:08 AM on November 23, 2010


At first I was disappointed because I was expecting a cartoon, but then I was disappointed because of all the various somethings that kept getting in my eye...

And yes, I realize how that sounds, but do you really want to be the one to make the joke here? In this thread? with the nice man and his nine steps?
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 7:08 AM on November 23, 2010


There's takeaway for people being harassed in school for all kinds of reasons, not just queerness, and that makes the video even better.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:17 AM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


(And having lots of complicated thoughts about being bisexual, when so many gay people -- men in particular, from what I can tell -- seem to enjoy telling me I don't exist. Does it get better for us, too?)

I hope so.

My best queer home is actually a religious group, Friends for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Concerns--Friends in the Quaker sense. It's the only place I consistently go where people really get that I can be queer even though I'm married to a man (I'm not bisexual--my partner was a woman when we got together and went through gender transition about five years later). The groups includes all kinds of individuals, but it's the acceptance of the couples that really gets me: the bisexual woman married to a bisexual man, the straight woman married to a gay man. And the way the group gets that a woman can be with another woman without identifying as a lesbian. I've never been anyplace with people who get all of that so completely.

It's one of my highest priorities every year to go to the two gatherings where I can be with these folks, not only for my own said, but for my children, who get to see a great range of all the ways there are to be men and women and "other," and also of the many ways people choose to be in loving relationships together.
posted by not that girl at 7:22 AM on November 23, 2010 [13 favorites]


"I didn't want to be alone."

If I didn't already think Pixar was a pretty great company, I do now. I wish I knew these people... I'm straight, but could really use a hug anyway.

(Oh, those nine steps... so heartfelt, so much joy. Add me to the "dabbing their eyes at work" list.)
posted by kinnakeet at 7:38 AM on November 23, 2010


True fact: Astro Zombie's girlfriend laughs uncontrollably at the part about the nine steps.

In case people aren't sure what pracowicity's talking about.
posted by jessamyn at 7:48 AM on November 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


I didn't bother to click the link in the upper right for the Barack Obama "It gets better" video. I see not many other people did either.

More people clicked through on the original youtube posting directly from the White House.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:49 AM on November 23, 2010


What a beautiful start to my morning. I'm going to be beaming at everyone on Bart and they are going to wonder what the hell I'm on. love
posted by chatongriffes at 7:56 AM on November 23, 2010


(And having lots of complicated thoughts about being bisexual, when so many gay people -- men in particular, from what I can tell -- seem to enjoy telling me I don't exist. Does it get better for us, too?)

This is an interesting point. Are there any "it gets better" videos from bisexuals?
posted by desjardins at 8:04 AM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love Pixar!

...because it's mandatory and I signed the Loyalty Oath when I made my account here, same as everyone.
posted by rusty at 8:41 AM on November 23, 2010


Wow. It was really great for Pixar to make this.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:45 AM on November 23, 2010


This is an interesting point. Are there any "it gets better" videos from bisexuals?

Why are you assuming that all of these people in this Pixar are only "gay?" If I go to http://www.itgetsbetter.org/, at the top it says "LGBT."
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:01 AM on November 23, 2010


I am trying really hard to imagine what it's like for people who respond to this with "somethings in their eyes" (a curiously priggish expression if you ask me). It fails to do anything for me but leave me mildly annoyed, mainly because of the music. No, not here to piss on the parade (yay Pixar!), but in the context it makes sense to express that different people are different, I guess.
posted by eeeeeez at 9:19 AM on November 23, 2010


I just now scrolled through the videos on the ITGB site, and bam, President Roslyn.
posted by The Whelk at 9:20 AM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Chalk me up as another straight guy who cries at all of these videos.

The question about bisexuals is really interesting, because I think there are stories like this on all sorts of subjects. Transexuals. Survivors of abuse. People with eating disorders. Alcoholics. Soldiers recovering from PTSD. There's a level where the story, during the hardest part, is the same: there's something wrong with me, and I'll never get to live life the same as everyone else.

The coming-out stories always read something like this: I was living in conditions that were destroying who I was. I fought to express myself, and suffered for it. Or I tried to choke the essence of myself out. Or I tried to keep a secret place with my true soul alive, and felt it dying anyway. I was too broken for life to be worth living. Then one day I learned that there were people out there who couldn't be scared away by my darkest secrets. I found a way to live the life I actually wanted. And if I can do it -- with my dark secret -- you can too.

I'm at risk of over-generalizing, but it seems like different interest groups keep discovering the importance of standing up and telling this story, as personal and gory and detailed as it can be, so that people further back on the path actually believe they're not alone. Think of Alcoholics Anonymous, eating disorder support groups, soldiers talking about PTSD -- it all starts to look pretty similar. Right now gay folks are rocking the hell out of it, and it's incredible to see. It's always incredible to see.

I guess I'm wondering, is there some general solution to this problem, or does each group need its own identity and message? Do we need youtube channels to inspire people who are contemplating suicide because they feel too fat to ever be accepted, or too afraid of open spaces, or too short, or just too weird? Is there some way to say, whoever the hell you are, there's six billion of us out here and some of us are going to love you that way?

After "this is awesome!" and "what about the bisexuals?" should come something like, "what about the humans?" Which, actually, I think both Dan Savage and Fred Rogers did great work on. I wonder who else has made that work ...

(Above, I'm lumping things that are problems to be fixed, like alcoholism, with things that are wrongly perceived as problems to be fixed, like being gay. They're obviously really different in a lot of ways -- and maybe ways that undermine my point? -- but I think the story of secrecy, coming out, building a life worth living is often the same.)
posted by jhc at 9:26 AM on November 23, 2010 [10 favorites]


I get to walk up those nine steps

I started with the misty-misty with his previous, "I have a cat." So mundane and poignant.

As a middle-aged, straight, white guy, I sat here watching this thinking, "Damn, I was kind of a jackass when I was younger. I could have met all of these cool people..."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:26 AM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


It was great for Pixar to make this... I just can't help but wonder about the people for whom it doesn't get much better. Who never find the right partner or who have their relationships fall apart, who bump along at a job they can handle but don't love, for whom life does not reveal itself to be beautiful, wonderful, or automatically magical just because they're older; who take their antidepressants and deal with the ordinary dilemmas of life as best they can. Yes, I'm very happy that this project exists, and if it stops suicides then it's the best thing ever, but seemingly promising teenagers that their lives will flourish in these fantastic ways seems a bit.... I don't know. Not everybody gets to work at Pixar. Not everybody gets to meet the love of their life. Not everyone meets a group of like-minded friends who love you unconditionally. Not everyone is intelligent and gifted. For many people, those nine steps may as well be a thousand. For most people, you just do the best you can, and freedom from high school doesn't mean freedom from self-questioning, or bullying in the workplace, or betrayal, or loss. If adulthood fixed those things, a million therapists would be out of a job.
posted by jokeefe at 9:28 AM on November 23, 2010 [18 favorites]


If I go to http://www.itgetsbetter.org/, at the top it says "LGBT."

Unfortunately, the B and T in LGBT have often been treated as lower class even within the LGBT movement. See 1, 2, 3.

Not saying that the (awesome) "It Gets Better" project has that problem, but having an LGBT banner doesn't really guarantee anything.
posted by kmz at 9:31 AM on November 23, 2010


Jokeefe -- I think you just described about half the adult population in the United States.
posted by erstwhile at 9:47 AM on November 23, 2010


Thank you, jokeefe. Well put. Not everyone reaches the point of "belonging" or even of "happiness." Encouragement is a great thing, but life does not necessarily get better.
posted by kinnakeet at 9:57 AM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here are some "It Gets Better" videos by high profile folks that mention bisexality.

- the cast of Rose By Any Other Name
- Tammy Peterson, Bi Rep for the National Union of Students LGBT Campaign in the UK
- Mike Manning from Real World DC
- Ann is a doctor, a big nerd a bisexual and a Christian
posted by jessamyn at 10:00 AM on November 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


Encouragement is a great thing, but life does not necessarily get better.

Jesus Christ, what do you people fucking want? What inspiring thing won't you piss on or pick apart?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:05 AM on November 23, 2010 [20 favorites]


Yep, that wrecked me, sitting at my desk at work. Reading this thread afterward did it again. This the first It Gets Better video I've actually watched, and it's just so good.

Good on you, Pixar; I'm proud of loving your stuff. And I'm starting to agree with Salvor Hardin up top: Dan Savage started something amazing.
posted by Songdog at 10:26 AM on November 23, 2010


I just can't help but wonder about the people for whom it doesn't get much better. Who never find the right partner or who have their relationships fall apart, who bump along at a job they can handle but don't love, for whom life does not reveal itself to be beautiful, wonderful, or automatically magical just because they're older; who take their antidepressants and deal with the ordinary dilemmas of life as best they can.

What you're describing isn't by any stretch of the imagination limited to the LGBTQ community, and the "It Gets Better" campaign isn't about finding your happy job or the true love of your life or magically getting over depression, it's about teenagers who are Gay/Bi/Trans/etc knowing that with adulthood will come the freedom to find a place and friends and a context for living where they are no longer bullied/tormented/harassed (or at least by far less than before).
posted by chimaera at 10:30 AM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


It was great for Pixar to make this... I just can't help but wonder about the people for whom it doesn't get much better.

To those people I would say, it still gets better. Our lives aren't finished just because we're adults. Sure, some people die unhappy, but everyone has the potential for happiness, no matter their age or circumstances. I don't really see why it's necessary to bring such a pessimistic viewpoint to a beautiful message of hope.
posted by ukdanae at 10:31 AM on November 23, 2010


Problem is, you can't really do nuanced when you are trying to reach young people contemplating suicide.

"It might get better, it might not" doesn't cut the mustard. Yes, it might be more truthful, as might "you need to toughen up and grow a thick skin", but there is a time and a place.

This was a good video, we need more of them.
posted by edgeways at 10:38 AM on November 23, 2010


Encouragement is a great thing, but life does not necessarily get better.

It might if they cut down on the mooching around the internet moaning at stuff.
posted by i_cola at 10:44 AM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm twenty years old. I've known I'm bisexual since I was twelve, but growing up in a tiny rural Midwestern town convinced me I needed to bury that part of me deep inside. I could tell people I met online, but I thought the chances of ever telling anyone I knew in Real Life were slim to none.

I came out to my mother on Saturday. It was the best decision I've ever made. Yes, videos like this help.
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 10:58 AM on November 23, 2010 [45 favorites]


the "It Gets Better" campaign isn't about finding your happy job or the true love of your life or magically getting over depression

I watched the first It Gets Better video, done by Dan Savage and his partner, and I thought it was wonderful. What they focussed on was moments, such as Dan walking with his son through Paris early in the morning; that's the kind of memory that anyone would treasure, and one of those that you hold on to as an example of what life can be at its best. They said that these are the things that life can hold, these memories, these instances. They didn't promise that all would be wonderful, or that nothing would be difficult. It was a much more nuanced approach that some of the videos that I've seen since, which seem to have kind of slid into an undifferentiated hurrah about how eventually your life will right itself and you'll achieve a state of happiness. It's not all that different from the anti-suicide messages I remember from when I was a teenager, and I didn't find them convincing then; all I needed to do was to look around at my parents and their friends to see that getting older was no guarantee of happiness of fulfillment. Anyway, I want to stress that yes I loved this, the people all come across as lovely individuals who I'd like to know, and if it saves even one life then that's grand. But there's a small niggling feeling that I can't get away from, which basically boils down to Successful People Are Successful.
posted by jokeefe at 11:00 AM on November 23, 2010


There's takeaway for people being harassed in school for all kinds of reasons, not just queerness, and that makes the video even better.

This. Not to take away anything from the specific struggle, particularly when it's clearly a life/safety threatening issue, but I'm really glad to see this broader perspective. I don't think this is, at its heart, really an issue of sexual identity, as often as it's used as one of many excuses to treat "other" people poorly.

Encouragement is a great thing, but life does not necessarily get better.

It's true. Not everybody gets to the promised land. Some wander in the desert for 40 years and die there. Even some who lead the way.

The point isn't so much that anyone's life has a guaranteed upward trajectory as that it can get better, and that it's pretty common for life to get better for those who are different once they leave the compulsory and conventional social institutions they're required to participate in as minors even when they're more or less abused in that context.

This is different people telling other different people that they graduated out of those places, and found a place in the world, and a good one at that, and that it's possible for you too. "It gets better" is a shorthand.
posted by namespan at 11:11 AM on November 23, 2010


If you are being teased to the point of near suicide by bullies in High School, I will take a bet at 10-1 odds that life will get better for you.
posted by I_pity_the_fool at 11:19 AM on November 23, 2010 [7 favorites]


Congratulations, punchdrunkhistory!

Your invite to the awesome secret clubhouse is in the mail. :-)
posted by Asparagirl at 11:20 AM on November 23, 2010


I was expecting another overpraised Pixar short. This was so much better.

I prefer the full movies by far.
posted by ersatz at 11:21 AM on November 23, 2010


Congratulations, punchdrunkhistory! As good as you feel now, I promise it gets even better.
posted by Marty Marx at 11:28 AM on November 23, 2010


Jesus Christ, what do you people fucking want? What inspiring thing won't you piss on or pick apart?

This, a thousand times this.

Look, my life has been shitty too. And it continues to be shitty. I'm hetero so I have all the privileges that go along with that, but I also have a fat body, and epic clinical depression, and an abusive family. I grew up poor, and didn't get to go to college because not only could my family not afford it, but no one ever encouraged me to go in the first place. I was bullied all the way through school for being "weird", for being smart, for being fat (always, always for being fat -- I still get hit with that one sometimes, and I'm 33 goddamn years old, you think people would stop being assholes at some point) for being raised by my grandmother instead of my parents like everyone else I knew, for being poor, for living in a mobile home when everyone I knew lived in houses that you couldn't split in half and put on the back of a flatbed truck.

I have worked my ass off for years in shitty jobs for horrible wages, I have lost countless friends due to my depression, due to my introversion, due to any number of things. I have had terrible romantic relationship after terrible romantic relationship. I have had my heart ripped out and stomped on more times than I can count.

Now? Now I have a job that many of my friends envy, because I'm well compensated for the first time in my life. However, my job is pretty damn thankless. I work as an admin for a large software company in Redmond and every single day people there are horribly, painfully rude to me simply because they can be. I'm in a support position, but they're the coders and designers, and since it's my job to get them the things they need to do their jobs, they feel like they can talk to me like I'm an idiot or scream at me because I won't buy them a goddamned iPad on the company dime simply because they'd like to have one. Last week I had someone corner me in the restroom while I was voiding my bowels so that she could complain about the paint color in her new office. Seriously.

I'm also in a happy, stable romantic relationship for the first time in a long time. But relationships aren't easy, and while we don't fight, we do have struggles. I love him to shreds, but sometimes I miss my single life when my time was always my own. I got lonely, but I only had to cater to my own whims back then. I wouldn't trade this relationship for anything, but that doesn't mean every day is a friggin' rosebed in full bloom, capische?

Abusive family problems? Still present. I'm going through some horrible family drama right now and have been estranged from all my blood relatives for most of this year. It's hard, and I feel guilty almost every day for not being in contact with the woman who raised me. Sometimes the guilt rises up and overshadows everything good in my life until I'm sitting in my bathtub, crying and wondering why everything has to be so hard.

And my epic depression issues? Oh, they're still here. Clearly. I will never, ever be shed of those, and someday they may be the death of me. But you know what? Even though my life isn't perfect, even though some days it's all I can do to drag myself out of bed and continue the hard work of breathing for another 24 hours, I am SO GLAD that none of my teenage suicide attempts were successful. I am so, so glad that I am still on this earth. Honestly, some days the only thing that keeps me from ending it all is the thought that I'll miss the next season of 30 Rock, or I won't get to read the next awesome book that Powells sends me from their Indiespensable book club (which is totally kickass and if you like books and getting cool shit in the mail why have you not subscribed to it yet), or that my boyfriend would be so fucking sad if I were gone. Plus, who would feed my cat?

I really don't understand the hue and cry over these It Gets Better videos. I don't see them as promising anyone a bright future at Pixar, or a bright future on the Broadway stage or as an actor, singer, dancer, whatever. All they are saying is, look, it gets better. But you have to be alive for it to get better, don't you? Killing yourself kills any hope that your life can change.

Actually, I love all these videos. They give me hope that maybe tomorrow will be a little better, on days when all I want to do is crawl in a hole and pull it shut after me.
posted by palomar at 11:55 AM on November 23, 2010 [42 favorites]


Congratulations to punchdrunkhistory. As a straight, middle-aged white guy who was only moderately weird in high school, it makes me happy to know that you are fully you, even if I never get to meet whatever amazing person I'm sure you, as a fully realized you, are now becoming.

(Note: it's possible that I was odder in high school, and now, than I am aware.)
posted by mmahaffie at 11:56 AM on November 23, 2010


punchdrunkhistory, congratulations! i am grinning like a fool after reading your post.
posted by palomar at 12:02 PM on November 23, 2010


Pixar is extraordinary. I am proud to say that the lab I work in is even somewhat connected to them. It was hard to hear the joy sometimes, because you can really feel the suffering it sprang from.

As a young man I was an outsider for different reasons. From experience, messages like these can be very hard to come by, and even harder to hear and believe, when they come from people unaffected by/distant from the problem (like the rich people in my life telling living-in-garage-eating-from-the-river-fake that money would come). This feels real, urgent, honest, plain, and loving in a way that is undeniable.

It is so important to give our "misfits" the sense that they have a place, at all, anywhere. That precious sense can help harness emotion and energy toward a better life. A life where it is possible to love and be loved, to feel and not feel shame, to create and share and not be diminished. A life we would wish on anyone.
posted by fake at 12:08 PM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


As a young man I was an outsider for different reasons.

Yeah, I think it can be tough to remember how much of everything high school can seem to be. I was lucky to have early glimmers of internet when I was in high school and was also fortunate that I knew a few weird/quirky/happy adults, people who were not my parents, who seemed to be living their lives in ways that were satisfactory to them, who confided in me that high school sucked for them too and it sucks for a lot of people who may need a larger pool of humanity to draw from to find like-minded people.

One of my favorite things about the weird panopticon that is facebook is seeing people who were painfully worse-than-me geeks and nerds in high school looking happy and okay. I'm sure there's some confirmation bias at work there [non-okay people maybe less apt to post on facebook, I don't know] but it gives me the same sort of feeling, only in an "I know these people" way, that it didn't just get better, mostly, for me, but that this is the norm rather than the exception.

Congrats punchdrunkhistory. Perhaps you'd like to make a little YouTube about it?
posted by jessamyn at 12:18 PM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


--... having lots of complicated thoughts about being bisexual, when so many gay people -- men in particular, from what I can tell -- seem to enjoy telling me I don't exist. Does it get better for us, too?

Yeah, it does get better for us, too, but that all comes from inside you. It's most likely to get better if you accept yourself, having far less to do with what other people think about you.

Even fully-grown adults give me this, telling me to "pick a side," that bisexuals don't exist and that I'm just confused. The last time I actually listened to that was to a lesbian coworker and her ex lover who were fond of condemning me for who I am, and that was so I could respond and accuse them of the same attitude they get from others. We bi's get it from both sides, pardon the possible pun, and yes, it does get better for us, and that applies to all the letters in LGBT. The thing is, it applies to a lot of other people, too:
I was bullied in school because I looked different and acted weird. I let it get to me, and that's where the worst feelings came from, I felt worst when it was me making myself feel like crap. Once I stopped believing all the BS I was fed, it got a HELL of a lot better.

I think the point is that it gets better for everyone, whoever you are, if you're courageous enough to confront these attitudes with the knowledge that those hurtful opinions don't come from people that care about you. Find a community, stop surrounding yourself with people that want to change you (whether it's because of your sexual preferences, what you have between your legs, what sort of substances you've consumed, how smart you are, what "color" people call you), and it will get better.

...and yes, I cried at the nine steps and the hug, too.
posted by neewom at 12:23 PM on November 23, 2010 [6 favorites]


>>As a straight social misfit, that was something I wish I'd seen as a kid.

I feel guilty because i thought that too, and I can't believe that my own social misfittedness had/has/would have had the same impact on a person's life that being gay does, so I kind of felt like I was appropriating someone else's much more difficult experiences.

And/but double that - right now is not so excellent for me, but these videos give me hope that I can be me and accepted and find a crowd that loves and accepts me, and maybe even my own 9 steps.
posted by b33j at 12:43 PM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think the point is that it gets better for everyone, whoever you are, if you're courageous enough to confront these attitudes with the knowledge that those hurtful opinions don't come from people that care about you. Find a community, stop surrounding yourself with people that want to change you (whether it's because of your sexual preferences, what you have between your legs, what sort of substances you've consumed, how smart you are, what "color" people call you), and it will get better.

Bingo. Very well put. Thanks, neewom!
posted by mmahaffie at 12:45 PM on November 23, 2010


It gets better.*

*Unless you live in Haiti, Bangladesh, Burma, North Korea, either of the Congos, much of Pakistan and India, Afghanistan, northern Sri Lanka, Yemen, Baghdad, Grozny, Caracas, Mogadishu, Ciudad Juarez, inner-city America and Appalachia.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 1:15 PM on November 23, 2010


As much as I wouldn't trade places with anyone in, say, Yemen, not being bullied for being gay in Yemen has to be better than being bullied, ceteris paribus.

And you know, I am 100% okay with lying to kids and telling them their life will be great when it saves said life.
posted by desjardins at 1:38 PM on November 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


punchdrunkhistory, many congrats from this PFLAG parent. I hope that it went well.
posted by Danf at 2:49 PM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


All they are saying is, look, it gets better. But you have to be alive for it to get better, don't you? Killing yourself kills any hope that your life can change.

Yes, yes, YES.

An old childhood friend of mine recently committed suicide on a Friday night. And I just... I can't even imagine. I can't imagine being in so much pain that I don't want to see how Saturday will turn out - that I've already decided that Saturday isn't worth it.

Which is the point that I see to these videos - stick around. Awesome things can happen. But you have to be alive for it. Life, even at its most mundane, has a lot of beauty to offer - even if it's something as simple as nine steps and a cat. And while the videos are targeted to GLBTQ youth (and yeah, heavily on the G & L, but so it goes) - I think it's a pretty universal message. You have no idea at 17 what your life is going to be like at 30. Or even at 22. And to get there, you have to stay alive.

Perhaps for the skeptics, it should be called the "It CAN Get Better If You Keep On Living" project, but that's kinda a mouth full.

I will say for myself: I don't have a sob story to tell. There's no tremendous amount of adversity that I overcame, even though yeah, I'm queer. And my own life got so much better after high school. And even after college. So, so much better. My life is better now that I could have imagined even three years ago and just keeps improving. Sure, shit happens. But every day gives you the option to choose joy - and I just keep going for it. And sure, it's hard, but man. Life is awesome. I'd recommend it to anyone, a thousand times over.
posted by sonika at 2:53 PM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


Saw the YouTube video on one of my many RSS feeds, watched it, got all verklempt, ran here to post, KNOWING that someone else would beat me to it.

Thanks, EmGeeJay. Needs to be seen, posted, reposted and talked about.

Well done, Pixar.
posted by sidereal at 2:55 PM on November 23, 2010


Something I wonder about.

If you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender...do you mind the LGBT "tag", the appellation, the grouping? Are there any implicit assumptions about that popular grouping that you don't like?

For example, if you are transgender, does being implicitly similar (by the LGBT tag) to lesbians bother you? If you are a lesbian, does being associated with gay males in this manner (cultural/media grouping) bother you?

I don't have a dog in this race, I'm curious. Seems like a good enough time to ask.

Simply wondering,

- Sidereal
posted by sidereal at 3:16 PM on November 23, 2010


Jesus Christ, what do you people fucking want? What inspiring thing won't you piss on or pick apart?

This. We can all agree that pixar employees can not see into the future and guarantee that suicidal gay teen #3784 will never get cancer. Having a good life involves more than turning 18. A life is never on a constant upward trajectory. That is so clearly not the point of these videos. These videos are saying that a good life is a possibility, and that's something lots of gay teens need to hear. Just knowing that people who were in your position found a way out can be enough to hang in there.

I suffer from depression and I've had a lot of really bad crap happen in my adult life. While my life isn't always better than it was in highschool, it does contain a sense of hope and possibility I didn't have back then. Knowing that you can change your level of happiness with your own actions makes a world of difference. As a teenager I saw the expectations of my loved ones as parameters on my life. I honestly believed I could never move beyond them without losing everything I cared about. The idea of a good life, my own life, seemed impossible. It would have been nice to know how quickly things would change once I had control over my life.
posted by feelingcold at 3:29 PM on November 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


Just wanted to say a far-too-quick thank-you, especially for everyone who responded to my bit about bisexuality. I felt like a heel roughly immediately after posting it; why are my (rather small) problems so worth even a few lines? Why blame it on someone else? (Particularly gay men -- I really do feel like a heel about that, and I'm sorry. It came out of stuff I've seen Mark Gatiss and John Barrowman say/write, and it's not fair at all.) It's not something that hits me all that often, but I'm feeling rough right now, and just to be shown some kindness...it really does mean more than I can say. So thank you. I have trouble believing that I'll ever have nine steps, a cat, and a hug, but I can believe in other little moments of beauty, and acceptance :)
posted by kalimac at 3:48 PM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well... nothing gets better than that video. Everything Pixar does is above and beyond anything I've seen before. Super impressive. Thanks so much for sharing this.
posted by dogbusonline at 4:05 PM on November 23, 2010


Maybe they should start by removing homophobic elements from their movies. I love Pixar, but parts of Toy Story 3 were disgusting. Specifically, the jokes about Ken wearing heals or his handwriting, with the undertones that it was hilarious or deserving scorn.
posted by null terminated at 5:01 PM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't cry. Ever.
I cried.
posted by signal at 5:29 PM on November 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


hey, you know that thing I always say about hating all of you? that tiresome catchphrase i've worked hard to saddle myself with? yeah, i don't mean it. figured this would be a good thread to mention that. and also that the phrase "nine steps" needs to become some kind of rallying cry. it needs to be the name of a charitable foundation or a lobbying group. it is a perfect phrase, in context, to describe the little bit of happiness that everyone is shooting for in their own lives.
posted by eyeballkid at 5:44 PM on November 23, 2010 [5 favorites]


If you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender...do you mind the LGBT "tag", the appellation, the grouping?

I prefer queer as an umbrella term because it is more inclusive of non-heteronormative sexuality, but it can sometimes be taken for an epithet so it isn't always the best way to convey my meaning. That has the additional drawback of making it difficult for straight people to use outside of intimate company.

I don't mind LGBTQ (or other variations) at all, though I admit I was confused by the Q when I first saw it. For what it's worth, I only hear complaints about how there really is no "community" as a prelude to an explanation from the L or G side of the acronym* of why, yet again, protections for transgender folks need to be dropped from some contested legislation. On the other hand, a queer community that specifically does not include you can become very real once you identify as bisexual, though I've been pretty fortunate in avoiding that conflict.

Ironically, for all the anti-bullying work, Dan Savage is virulently biphobic, which should help put some more context around the remarks from other bi folks in the thread.

*which does not mean, of course, that most or even many gays and lesbians agree with that sentiment.
posted by Marty Marx at 6:20 PM on November 23, 2010


That particular video didn't move me enormously, but what I like about the it gets better videos and that one in particular is this acknowledgment (mentioned above) that being a teen is just really fucking hard when you feel you don't fit in (which most teens feel).

I'm sure my queerness was part of why being a teen was so fucking hard for me, but at the time I didn't even identify that as the issue. I just knew I was a fucking freak and was surrounded by people who wanted to make my life hell because of my freakyness. So, as much as I agree with certain critiques of these videos, I don't think we can ever have enough adults telling creative, freaky, ostracized, and yeah, queer kids that they can view their difference as a gift and that there is a future ahead where the challenges will at the least, be different.
posted by serazin at 8:05 PM on November 23, 2010


Also check out Make it Better.
posted by serazin at 8:18 PM on November 23, 2010


Dang.
posted by zzazazz at 9:25 PM on November 23, 2010


I just saw this and wow, that is great. Great for gay kids, but I think all kids can get something from this. Even straight kids can have a pretty tough time in youth if they are different, and frankly most of us are different, especially then. In life it didn't just get better for the gays but for most of us who were/are different from whatever that popular perception of normal is. I am going to recommend this video to my kids, both so to reinforce that it gets better and to enhance their sensitivity towards the gay kids in the school.
posted by caddis at 4:16 AM on November 24, 2010


The final female speaker in the video is an old coworker of mine, a sharp, sensitive, assertive producer. Fantastic to see her speaking out so powerfully.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 6:26 AM on November 24, 2010


"Not everybody is Kurt on 'Glee.'"

Kurt's Bully, Max Adler, Says 'It Gets Better'.
posted by ericb at 6:32 AM on November 24, 2010


Jesus Christ, what do you people fucking want? What inspiring thing won't you piss on or pick apart?

I think it should be okay to and there should be room for in any movement, a gentle, caring dissent.

I agree that this whole It Gets Better campaign is fucking awesome. But I also agree that it might set up unfair social dynamics within our community of caring, wonderful, inspiring people, because we cannot all be inspired to greatness, and the expectation that we can be or perhaps should be will set up its own tragic resonances within our communities of caring as not everyone lives up to the example.

Differentiating between can't or won't isn't our problem. It's our expectation of should that tends to be the worst on the folks who don't.

I am almost always inspired, but I don't always succeed. This is possible with teens and adults and if we get too caught up in being inspired, we can trample and leave fine noble people behind in our rush to be great.

I think that this is what the dissent in this thread is about. While we are preoccupied with doing great things and feeling good about ourselves, let us not forget the folks who don't get caught up. They are part of our family too.

It's sort of like the TED dynamic too - there is only so much reward/attention/money/excellence/regard to go around and yet there are so many great people out there doing amazing things who will go unrecognized and unrewarded, and yet what keeps them going? What regard we can spare for them day-to-day.

Just keep that in mind as you go forward being inspired. There are people in the background doing just as much good and getting only scant attention. Maybe they need our thanks too? Maybe they could use a helping hand even as they struggle with their challenges? Maybe we should not forget.
posted by kalessin at 6:33 AM on November 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


"It is so important to give our "misfits" the sense that they have a place, at all, anywhere."

It seems that a lot of us ended up here. :)
posted by Jacqueline at 7:23 AM on November 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


To those that are skeptical that 'it gets better,' I don't think anyone's saying that better means perfect or even great. We all have our issues, after all.
I, for one, have not yet come out to my mother as bisexual and neither has my sister, but we have both told our father; dad is almost embarrassingly cool about it (one of the many things I love him for), but I do not want to lose my relationship with my mother and stepfather and I would, were I to come out to them. Perhaps I'm wrong about that, but as I said, we all have our issues.

Going back to my earlier comment, in light of a few comments I've read since, there's something that needs to be added:
I'm not stupid enough to believe that there aren't real depression issues that need more than self-determination and personal effort. We do need other people sometimes to help us out, and sometimes we need medications. Finding a community and dumping one's "friends" (those friends that tell you that you aren't worth crap for some reason or another) isn't always enough and it can be very hard - for example, I don't want to dump my mom because I love her and I wasted too much time being angry at her in the first place - but it can help. Support groups, volunteer work, therapy, whatever helps you can only be a good thing, but most of the "better" comes from inside yourself, not from anyone else. It's probably the single-most difficult process I've ever put myself through.

I love these videos taking part in this campaign because of its purpose: take people that have been just where you are, targeting a specific group of people that face a lot of problems in their young lives and trying to give a little bit of hope. What, I ask, is wrong with that? They aren't trying to save the world, they aren't trying to fix every problem there is, and they're not trying to tell anyone that everyone's lives will be perfect, they're just trying to give hope, a precious enough commodity that most of us find ourselves entirely without it at least once in our lives.
That said, it can apply to everyone, from addicts to victims of violence and abuse, to victims of misogyny or misandry, to bullied kids, to people teased for being "not so smart," and so on.

Being the B in LGBT or, if preferred, LGBTQ, I have never found a sense of community in that acronym except when I am standing among the crowd on Peachtree during the Pride Parade in Atlanta. I prefer the term "queer," as it's rather more inclusive than the LGbtq implied in that acronym. I prefer it with hesitance, though, because it's still used as a term of hate in some circumstances and that isn't a "better" thing.
Being bisexual doesn't define me, it doesn't make me part of a community outside the problems the BTQ of us have fitting in in the LG and "straight" communities alike; my experiences define me and I'd rather say I am "a woman, a victim of bullying, a victim of rape and someone that's been through a hell of a lot that has nothing to do with my sexual orientation." Yet, I wholeheartedly approve of the LGBTQ acronym anyway, and I am thoroughly pleased that the Trevor Project exists at all because gay youth suffer a hell of a lot for just being who they are and sometimes need just a bit of hope just to survive sometimes.

-- Just wanted to say a far-too-quick thank-you, especially for everyone who responded to my bit about bisexuality. I felt like a heel roughly immediately after posting it

Why? It isn't anything that hasn't occurred to most of us before, I'd imagine. It's certainly bothered me a lot in the past. If something is important to you, by definition it isn't insignificant. Doesn't matter what your pigeon is, just that it's yours. Getting acceptance from others shouldn't (YYMV, natch) be as important to you as accepting yourself, but both are hard, both are wearying and neither is going to be a lot of fun to deal with. Goodness - rage about it if it helps. Try not to make yourself feel a heel just for speaking out about something you find important.

Hell, that ^ is tl, I almost dr. Anyway, this sort of thread is why I love MeFites in general. I had a really rough patch there for a while, disappeared, owe a few of you cookies (and probably more, though I doubt those of you that I want to send cookies to would know or understand why). I've been keeping up, though, and threads like this have given me hope, as corny as that sounds. I'm very happy that campaigns like this exist, and very happy that you lot of misfits can accept pretty much anyone even if we're all asses sometimes.
By the way...

punchdrunkhistory, hell yeah. You've just done something I may never do. Congratulations!
posted by neewom at 10:17 AM on November 24, 2010


Jesus Christ, what do you people fucking want? What inspiring thing won't you piss on or pick apart?

Just a quick response-- it's not pissing on, it's thinking about and responding to. And sometimes responses are mixed, and it's okay to ask why. And even to do so when something seems like it must be overwhelmingly good, or overwhelmingly right and unquestionable. It's okay to wonder about stuff, no?
posted by jokeefe at 11:55 AM on November 24, 2010


I hope that non-gay bullied teens (like I once was) take this all to heart too. I know high school is like a prison for some. But once you're out it does get better, even if you need a therapist to help you along the way.
posted by IndigoRain at 7:46 PM on November 24, 2010


Here's a good one. This guy would have made my 16 yo self listen.
posted by h00py at 2:04 AM on November 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


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