tonight i watched oprah’s show about the freedom riders in the early 1960s and watching from the vantage point of 50 years later with our first african american president in office it seems unreal what those brave men and women endured 50 years ago. i noticed a google chrome commercial during american idol but didn’t see the one during glee about the it gets better (http://www.itgetsbetter.org) project. i signed the pledge on the site and began watching a couple of the videos around the site. it really moved me to see both the google commercial and apple employee videos on the site. what struck me most was a quote from the apple video “the bullies seem like the powerful people and the successful people, and the secret of the real world is they’re at the peak of their power at 15 and 16. And there will come a time when the bullies are not successful and the people they bullied are and you just have to out survive them.”
in middle school i was picked on – not because i was gay but because there were boys that were tougher than me (or who thought they were tougher than me – i rarely challenged anyone who picked on me in school) but two things happened – 1) i grew (and i grew a lot!) and 2) i kept growing up. high school was better than middle school; and college was phenomenal. every year older was easier than the previous. people i would have never imagined talking to me, let alone as friends were friends and though i was funny (which for a while when i was younger would not have gotten that reaction – i got my head dunked in a toilet at a church retreat in high school no less).
one of the most amazing stories on oprah’s show today was about a white man who beat a black man in mississippi (the black man just happens to be senator john lewis now). the man who beat him was so moved by his victim’s decision not to press charges that it eventually helped him turn his thinking around. i’m not saying i was perfect in middle school, high school or at church. in many situations were the tables were turned and i was able to be the bully, i sadly was someone else’s tormentor. usually verbally (not physically) – but both can have scars and consequences. i encourage kids to think about how they treat others regardless of their gender, accent, physical appearance, sexual orientation, disability or any other reason they differ from you. and regardless of what they say – it does get better.