Dan Savage: Gay Teens Need to Know it Gets Better

Sex advice columnist and gay rights activist Dan Savage began the "It Gets Better Project" after hearing of the September suicide of 15-year-old Billy Lucas in Greensburg, Ind. Bullies tormented him with gay slurs.

Only weeks later, the country was shocked when Rutgers student Tyler Clementi jumped off a bridge after classmates webcast a video of his romantic interlude with another man.

"I wish I could have talked to that kid for 5 minutes," Savage told me of yet another case. "And been able to tell them it gets better."

Savage's Internet-based project hopes to connect with young gay people and let them know, no matter how bleak their lives seem now, it does get better.

"When a gay teenager kills himself, what he's saying is that he can't picture a future for himself with joy in it to compensate for the pain in his life now," says Savage. "Gay teenagers need to know that life as an openly gay adult is wonderful... and they shouldn't be filled with despair."

It's a story Savage knows well. On the site, he talks about being bullied in high school. But most of the content is devoted to the joy-filled life he now leads with complete support from friends and family.

The project now has thousands of submissions and millions of views, according to Savage, including "heartbreaking" stories from parents of young gay teens struggling to connect.

"They're telling me they're working," he says. "They're helping."

Celebs like Kathy Griffin, Neil Patrick Harris, Eve, Anne Hathaway and Zachary Quinto are already on board.

Savage hopes the site will not only spark conversation and change, but push legislators to take action too. "What we need are anti-gay bullying programs in every school," he says.

But many conservatives have pushed back on that idea, claiming the message pushes a "pro-gay agenda" to kids.

"We believe the bullying policy should put the emphasis on the wrong actions of the bullies and not the characteristics of the victims," Chuck Darrell of the conservative Minnesota Family Council said last week regarding a state push to add gay sensitivity to anti-bullying lessons. The ideological fight there went national after a bullied gay teen, Justin Aaberg, committed suicide.

"There's a line in which bullying becomes assault," says Savage, who feels we need to start "prosecuting and arresting kids and administrators who are negligent and do nothing to stop it... We have to draw a line in the sand."

You can go to ItGetsBetterProject.com to watch the videos and submit your story. Savage is also encouraging people to check out TheTrevorProject.org, a 24-hour crisis line for gay and lesbian teenagers.