Being gay or lesbian is no longer a sentence to a life lived in the closet. But as a teenager, when most youth just want to fit in and be accepted, it can often feel that way.
Now a new video distributed by the RCMP is sending a clear message that "It Gets Better."
The statement is not new. In October 2010, following a rash of suicides in his community, Fort Worth, Texas, councillor Joel Burns fought back tears as he told his painful story. He shared what it was like to be targeted as a result of being gay. It was then that he offered the wise advice.
He acknowledged to youth who were listening that high school is difficult and coming out was painful. But he advised them to give themselves a chance to see how much better it will get. That is when he offered a phrase that would soon spread around the world. "It gets better," he said.
Journalist Dan Savage and his partner Terry Miller launched an Internet-based project, It Gets Better, in September 2010, and it has grown from there.
The RCMP video features real officers telling youth that there is nothing wrong with being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
Everyone's story is different. For most young people, it takes a lot of guts to openly declare their sexuality. As Burns said, coming out is a painful process. It means telling the people closest to you something so personal and fearing that somehow it will be a disappointment to the people they love.
Although it is often hardest on our youth, the RCMP in this video should be commended for their bravery. Their example, and this video, will change lives.
As more public support emerges for gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people, the message is reversing.
Youth today know that even if the people closest to them do not accept them for who they are, there are lots of others in their community who will. They are not alone.
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