It Gets Way Better
A message for gay / bi /queer /trans kids who have considered suicide when the rainbow is not enough.
recorded for the Care Bear effort supporting the It Gets Better project,
with thanks to Dan Savage, Jim Larson, and Stephanie Miller
Below is the transcript for deaf/HH friends
It Gets Way Better
Greetings. This is a recording for the Care Bear effort supporting the It Gets Better project, with thanks to Dan Savage.
I’m Ron Suresha, the author or editor of several books about gay Bears and bi men, and I have a message to kids who may think they’re different from most kids because they’re gay or bisexual or queer or differently gendered, and who are being bullied, physically or verbally abused by others.
My story is about surviving a suicide attempt resulting from being bullied because I was seen as gay. Though I may look pretty butch now, as a kid I was scrawny, unathletic, and somewhat effeminate. I endured years of physical bullying and name-calling throughout grade school and junior high, and when I got to high school and could grow a beard, I started going to gay bars and to GLF meetings on the Wayne State campus in Detroit.
In 1975, the summer before my senior year, I went with an older friend to the very first gay pride picnic (before there was a parade) in Detroit. A local TV news crew took pictures of me standing arm in arm with a group of other gay and bi men, which made it onto the 6:00 news that night.
As you might imagine, my senior year was hellish. At school I was daily taunted and teased by other kids. I thought I was one of the most unpopular kids in the class because I was gay and everyone knew.
Finally early in my senior year, when I knew nobody was home until nighttime, I cut class early, went home, and swallowed every pill in the house. When my mom came home that night, she found me in a stupor and dragged me to the hospital, where they pumped my stomach ultimately without much damage.
As the state required of serious suicide attempts at the time, I spent several weeks in what was called a rehab hospital, where in therapy I met a good doctor who helped me learn to tame the shame of being gay.
When I got back, because I had been in a hospital, I was even more stigmatized. I took a full courseload to complete my senior year on time, I was lonely but I just focused on my schoolwork. And I started to learn to meditate.
Then one day I happened to be hanging out with three of the nerdiest, smartest kids in the class, and we found out that we were all gay or bi or lesbian, and we formed a small, special, secret support group.
Having even one or two gay or lesbian pals to support each other with our daily struggles about school and life and love and and sex and lust and coming out, made all the difference.
At that point, I didn’t think I’d live to see 20. But you know, today is my 52nd birthday. And in two days I celebrate my sixth anniversary with my wonderful loving husbear. And I have lived to experience the blessing of many wonderful friends. And to tell my story today.
So stick around. It gets better. Way better.
Being gay is a gift. Being bi is beautiful, too, because you can choose to love anyone. Being queer is not something that anyone else has the right to tell you not to be.
Your body is your own, so own it, protect it. Be curious about your body and how it works. Look hot, or fabulous, and celebrate whatever body you got, however you see fit. Only you can have your unique form of gender and sexual expression. From butch to femme, kinky to vanilla, Kinsey Zero to Six, whatever body we are given or make for ourselves, we all fit somewhere along the continuum of sexuality and just because you’re comfortable on the edge doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.
If you’re big or small or don’t think you look like the gay ideal, it can be even harder because you don’t seem to fit in with either straight or gay culture.
Being a gay or bi or trans bear, cub, panda, wolf, chub, otter, or any other woodland creature you identify with is yet another level of coming out.
But for most queer folks I know, being out is a daily, and lifelong, process. So you may as well relax and get used to it.
Here is my advice: Turn within and meditate and find the light inside yourself. This is the source of your strength. Carry that light inside yourself always. You can make it through one day. Then go to sleep and make it through the next.
Respect and protect your queer sisters and brothers. Take care of yourself, and stick up for each other. Love yourself, and don’t take disrespect from anyone because you’re different from them in any way.
You’re gonna make it through. And you’re gonna love it. So hang in there.
As the great radio pundit Stephanie Miller said, “Walk in your truth, and everything will be OK.”
Better than that — everything’s gonna be great!
Thanks for being here.