Monday, April 11, 2011

From Paul Caldwell: Letting teens know "It Gets Better"

Composer/conductor Paul Caldwell (of Caldwell & Ivory fame) pointed me to his recent video contribution to the "It Gets Better" website. If you don't know about "It Gets Better" here is info from the website directly-- they tell the story way better than I can...

About the It Gets Better Project

Growing up isn’t easy. Many young people face daily tormenting and bullying, leading them to feel like they have nowhere to turn. This is especially true for LGBT kids and teens, who often hide their sexuality for fear of bullying. Without other openly gay adults and mentors in their lives, they can't imagine what their future may hold. In many instances, gay and lesbian adolescents are taunted — even tortured — simply for being themselves.

Justin Aaberg. Billy Lucas. Cody Barker. Asher Brown. Seth Walsh. Raymond Chase. Tyler Clementi. They were tragic examples of youth who could not believe that it does actually get better.

While many of these teens couldn’t see a positive future for themselves, we can. The It Gets Better Project was created to show young LGBT people the levels of happiness, potential, and positivity their lives will reach – if they can just get through their teen years. The It Gets Better Project wants to remind teenagers in the LGBT community that they are not alone — and it WILL get better.

What is the It Gets Better Project?

In September 2010, syndicated columnist and author Dan Savage created a YouTube video with his partner Terry to inspire hope for young people facing harassment. In response to a number of students taking their own lives after being bullied in school, they wanted to create a personal way for supporters everywhere to tell LGBT youth that, yes, it does indeed get better.

Two months later, the It Gets Better Project (TM) has turned into a worldwide movement, inspiring over 10,000 user-created videos viewed over 35 million times. To date, the project has received submissions from celebrities, organizations, activists, politicians and media personalities, including President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Adam Lambert, Anne Hathaway, Colin Farrell, Matthew Morrison of "Glee", Joe Jonas, Joel Madden, Ke$ha, Sarah Silverman, Tim Gunn, Ellen DeGeneres, Suze Orman, the staffs of The Gap, Google, Facebook, Pixar, the Broadway community, and many more. For us, every video changes a life. It doesn’t matter who makes it.

Here is the e-mail which Paul has sent to me and a whole bunch of other folks:

Dear Friends,

As many of you know, Sean Ivory and I have spent our entire careers using music to tell stories that really matter to us, stories of Holocaust victims, South Africans, Rwandans and many others.

But this year, a series of suicides among gay teens made me realize it's time to tell the story that is my own. I work with kids. I must do everything I can to ensure that no kid who sings with me - or who sings music that I compose - feels so isolated and alone that he/she thinks suicide is the only option.

Toward that end, I posted a video on the It Gets Better website late last week. Depending on site traffic at any given time, the website can function oddly. If it gives you trouble, there's an alternate portal, a You Tube channel where the folks at It Gets Better have added their favorite videos. Mine was posted there over the weekend.

Posted below is Paul's contribution which is so compelling it its beauty and because of Paul's willingness to allow himself to be vulnerable. Bravo, Paul.

Please tell other people about this project. You might really be able to help a young person in need.

Caldwell goes on to say: It does get better. Please spread that word in every way you can. Post it and forward it - far and wide. Let's make sure that no kid who sings in any chorus walks away from that experience thinking that suicide is a reasonable option.

Thanks again for all you do to make our world a more beautiful place.

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