As I considered ways to support an “It Gets Better Project” for queer Catholics, one of my first decisions was that there is no point in re-inventing the wheel. IGBP already exists, and even includes a specifically faith-based playlist. The obvious lesson is that we should promote, support and publicize those videos, and encourage people to contribute their own, rather than start here from scratch. Exploring those faith-based videos already out there, I was interested in two which incorporated into their titles, not “It Gets Better”, but “Faith Gets Better” – a description which is more descriptive of my purpose here than Dan Savage’s original “It Gets Better” focus, which was specifically on averting bullying and teen suicide. That is part of my concern, but only a part. I am conscious of the spiritual bullying, real or perceived, by the Catholic Church in its doctrine and some of its leaders. That affects older people as well as teens.
I have now revised my stated intention accordingly. Instead of depending for video resources on the IGB faith – based playlist, I shall be referring primarily to the Faith Gets Better Youtube Channel – and basing my words on the “Faith Gets Better” slogan, than the better known, but less directly relevant, “It Gets Better”. I have begun work on constructing a framework and technical structure for this, which I will discuss later. For now, I just want to introduce to you the original “Faith Gets Better” project, with its own opening video, Meg’s own story, and beneath that, the text introduction on its webpage (written on October 14, 2010).
Faith Gets Better
The recent rash of LGBTQ youth suicides has served as a tragic catalyst for a discussion about adolescent harassment and bullying. Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project has served as an inspiring example of a constructive response that is hopefully helpful to the millions of LGBTQ youth out there.
Savage has gotten some pushback, though, from religious readers upset by the criticism of religion in many of the videos. While it’s certainly inaccurate to paint people of faith with a broad brush, it is true that many harassers believe they have explicit or implicit religious approval of their actions. When conservative religious leaders pull support from political candidates who apologize for hateful remarks and peddle pseudo-science lies in major newspapers to exculpate their intolerance from blame, it’s not hard to see why some might look at religion suspiciously.
So while I think there are some fair critiques of Savage’s approach to religion, I think his “don’t tell it to me” response to those of us upset by these abuses of our faiths is right on.
Pro-equality people of faith need to speak out against those leaders who use religion to justify ignoring the real threat of harassment and discrimination. We need to stand up for our values, and spread the message that faith is really about compassion and defending the dignity of all God’s children. That’s why I was excited to see people like Bishop Gene Robinson, Kimberly Knight (videos below) and Jeremy Burton sharing their own powerful stories.
I hope more people of faith, straight and gay, will do the same and I invite them to send us their messages so we can feature them here on the blog.