It Gets Better

Washingtonians want you to know: it gets better. A few weeks ago, journalist Dan Savage launched the “It Gets Better” campaign, created in the wake of the recent spate of LGBT teen suicides. The campaign features videos made by celebrities and ordinary individuals, who share their painful pasts and encourage LGBT youth not to lose hope during middle and high school. Washingtonians have taken up the call to arms, and are reaching out to bullied teens with messages of their own.

The DC office of the ACLU made a video highlighting the difficult childhood experiences of their staff. Local screenwriter and director Lee Whitman sticks it to the popular kids who harassed him, citing his personal success and happiness as the ultimate revenge. In one of the more publicized PSAs, fashion guru and native Washingtonian Tim Gunn talks about his troubled teenage years in Cleveland Park, which culminated in a suicide attempt at age 17.

Other contributors have less recognizable names, but carry equally powerful messages. In one of the more touching videos, shown above, area high school student Ava pays tribute to her best friend, Aiden Rivera Schaeff. Schaeff was a local transgender student who committed suicide on April 22, 2010 after relentless taunting. He was one month shy of his 18th birthday.

With 32% of DC’s LGBT youth reporting suicide attempts, there is ample reason for Washingtonians to speak out. If you or someone you know is in need of help, please reach out to the The Trevor Project, a 24-hour suicide prevention hotline for LGBT youth. Trained counselors are available around-the-clock at 866-488-7386. A fundraiser for The Trevor Project is taking place tonight at 7 p.m. at the Duplex Diner, located at 2004 18th Street NW. A $10 donation is requested, and includes discounted rail drinks.

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Rebecca Gross

Raised in nearby MoCo, Rebecca happily jumped the District line in 2005. When not stuck behind a computer, she can be found exploring the city’s many wonders, usually with her trusty canine sidekick Jasper Jones. Questions, comments, concerns? Email her at RebeccaGross (at)

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