savageThe creator of a viral Internet campaign to prevent gay teens from committing suicide tells The Upshot that parents need to stop trying to turn their kids straight and instead "realize the choice isn't between a gay kid and a kid who isn't gay, but a gay kid and a dead kid."
What started out as a single video uploaded by the Seattle-based sex columnist and gay activist Dan Savage has quickly turned into an Internet phenomenon, with "Project Runway" star Tim Gunn, talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres, and other celebrities releasing powerful videos telling gay teens they aren't alone and that their lives will improve.
The hundreds of videos uploaded to the It Gets Better project have been viewed more than a million times, Savage says.
Savage tells The Upshot he started the project after reading about several teens who killed themselves. One common thread emerged in the deaths: The kids had endured relentless bullying at school for being gay. Savage said he wanted to talk to those kids before they took their own lives to tell them that the bullying would eventually stop, and that their lives would get better.
"A bullied straight kid goes home to a parent who is on his side. A bullied gay kid goes home to more bullying and is dragged off to a church for more bullying from the pulpit," Savage said. "A homophobic parent may not care if a kid lives or dies — we do. A lot of homophobic parents think their bullying will convince their kid to be straight."
Savage didn't expect celebrities to make videos for the project. He says gossip blogger Perez Hilton was responsible for soliciting videos from famous people, but that most of the hundreds of videos are from regular people giving messages of support.
You can watch Savage's original "It Gets Better" video below:
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