Since Dan Savage first started the It Gets Better Project in the fall of 2010, thousands of people have created online videos to support the program empowering LGBT youth, garnering more than 40 million views in total. Tonight (February 21), Savage will bring these stories together in an MTV special, during which viewers will meet three young people coming to terms with their sexual orientation and gender identity.
"The lives of these three young people will resonate with millions of teens — gay and straight — who are being bullied for simply being themselves," Savage said. "It's so important they know that things get better and that living openly and honestly and being who you are makes it better."
Viewers will get to know Vanessa, a young woman who tries to gain her mother's acceptance of her gay relationship. They'll follow Greg, a popular high school class president, as he prepares to tell his friends and parents that he's gay. Finally, they'll watch as Aydian, who is transgender, overcomes obstacles while preparing to marry a woman.
Savage drew on his own challenging high school experience to help identify with young LGBT people. "A lot of us were there, a lot of us were bullied LGBT kids in high schools and middle schools once upon a time. I had thoughts about suicide when I was in high school," he said.
By taking an in-depth look at their lives, the columnist hopes to remind young people that being bullied is only temporary. "I'm so glad I didn't commit suicide because my life is so rewarding and rich, and that's what the campaign is about: Adult LGBT kids sharing our lives, which are rewarding and rich, with these LGBT kids who may be thinking about ending their lives," he explained.
The special is intercut with messages of hope from celebrities including Zachary Quinto, Ellen DeGeneres, Ke$ha, "Jersey Shore" star Vinny Guadagnino and more.