An ‘It Gets Better’ video campaign project has been launched for gay and lesbian youths to speak about their experiences and create awareness about challenges they face.
Students from the University of Cape Town (UCT) and the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria have teamed up to create It Gets Better South Africa.
The collection of videos discourages homophobic bullying and promotes the Triangle Project Helpline, a service for LGBT youth.
The videos feature, among others, struggle hero Ahmed Kathrada, track superstar Oscar Pistorius, FreshlyGround violinist Kyla-Rose Smith, presenters Jo-Ann Strauss and Sade Giliberti, models Kerry McGregor and Shashi Naidoo and Mr Gay World 2011, Francois Nel.
Featuring videos in English and Afrikaans, It Gets Better South Africa will form part of the Cape Town Holocaust Centre’s In Whom Can I Still Trust? exhibition, which looks at homophobia in Nazi Germany and the gay rights movement in South Africa.
The It Gets Better South Africa team shares unique messages of hope and solidarity with LGBT youth.
Kathrada states: “The continuous violence perpetrated against homosexuals in South Africa and the regressive laws against homosexuals in other parts of Africa indicate a busy road ahead of us before we can really consider ourselves a fully matured society. By understanding and accepting difference, we embrace the human condition. Difference in our society is what makes us a vibrant and relevant people.”
Pistorius who competed at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, says: “Just remember that you’re special. You don’t have to worry. You don’t have to change. Take a deep breath and remember it will get better.”
Strauss reflects: “A lot of my friends at school were gay. People tried to break down their self-confidence. Years later, we look back and we realize that all those things actually made them stronger people. I think it is really true when Kelly Clarkson sings ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’”
Naidoo says: “If you’re gay and being bullied because of your sexuality, remember the problem is not with you. It’s with them. Life becomes a lot easier when you learn to accept an apology you perhaps never got. And trust me, life gets a lot better.”
Satang Nabaneh, a student at the Centre for Human Rights, states: “I call on all of you (parents, friends, brothers, sisters, and school teachers). Let’s take a stand today. Let’s take a stand against bullying. Let’s take a stand against discrimination. Let’s take a stand against homophobia.”
The producer of the series is Andrew Barry, a Master of Philosophy in Education student at UCT. Barry says: “If you’re the target of bullying on the basis of sexual orientation, please seek support. You don’t have to suffer alone. Tell someone you trust. If you’re scared and you don’t know who to reach out to, please call the Triangle Project Helpline.” He would like to see more South Africans make contributions to the It Gets Better Project.
Background on the It Gets Better Project: A global campaign
It Gets Better South Africa forms part of the It Gets Better Project, a global anti-bullying video campaign. It was launched in the United States in 2010 by syndicated columnist and author Dan Savage, with his partner Terry Miller. They were responding to the suicides of a number of LGBT learners who were being bullied in school. The videos, targeted at any learners who are bullied, explain that their lives will “get better.”
Since the first video, the It Gets Better Project has inspired more than 50 000 user-created videos that have been viewed more than 50 million times. The speakers include Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, US President Barack Obama, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, actress Anne Hathaway, musician Lady Gaga, and television personality Kim Kardashian.
Today, the It Gets Better Project is a non-profit organisation in the United States with more than ten international affiliates, each working to share messages of hope with LGBT learners around the world and supporting efforts to improve their lives.
It Gets Better South Africa will be launched at the Cape Town Holocaust Centre on 20 February 2013 at 7:00 pm. Open to the public, the event will also feature the South African debut of Challenging Homophobia: Teaching about Sexual Diversity, edited by Lutz van Dijk and Barry Van Driel.