Does it get better?

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Many of you have likely noticed reports over the last few months (mostly South of the border) of increased homophobic bullying and the resulting spike in suicide amongst male teens. I first heard ‘it gets better’ when I watched a heartfelt speech by  Texas council member Joel Burns on his own experience growing up as a gay child, adolescent and adult. At one point in his very emotional speech, Joel says:

“I have never told this story to anyone before tonight, not my family, not my husband, anyone…This story is for the young people who might be holding that gun tonight, or the rope, or the pill bottle…There is so so much more…Life got so much better for me and I want to tell every teen who might see this, give yourself a chance to see just how much better life will get.”

Joel’s message is incredibly brave and welcomed by many of us looking to give hope to those struggling with coming out and the pressures that they face. Intolerance of homosexuality  is not only thriving in North America, but in many other areas around the world through legislation working to persecute homosexuals. The ‘it gets better’ message and the project itself (see below) is a commendable one, but is ‘waiting it out’ the answer?   A group of students and academics on campus have created a forum where we can discuss the issue of homosexuality and intolerance this Monday, January 10th at 12pm. The forum will focus on the questions below and lunch will be provided. Please register to attend, and I hope to see some Terrys there!

Does it get better?:  Homosexuality as Intolerable

Date: Monday January 10, 2011
Time:   12:00-3:00
Place:  3rd Floor Board Room, Liu Institute for Global Issues

Recent suicides of gay teenage boys in the US is only one story of a larger global violent backlash against sexual minorities.  The infamous proposal of new legislation to make acts of homosexuality punishable by death in Uganda, and the resurgence of persecution against gay, lesbian, transgendered and queer people across world indicate an alarming trend. Last month, the UN removed the words “sexual orientation” from the UN Resolution Condemning Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions; and in Canada, once the most progressive country in the world for refugee rights, sexual minorities face increasing challenges to obtain refugee status.

The “It Gets Better Project” sends a positive message to youth that despite the seeming intolerability of their experiences, over time they will find community, security and tolerance. But does this campaign mislead youth into thinking that “waiting it out” is the answer?  Join our discussion forum to explore these global questions:

  • What makes homosexuality intolerable?
  • For whom does it get better and why?
  • Why is tolerance, a tolerable political response?
  • What is “our” responsibility?

Join us to stimulate discussion and help us explore how we might engage the UBC and world community on these issues.

Please RSVP at

Forum created by Katherine Fobear (Centre for Women and Gender Studies), Mladen Kojic (Political Science), and Erin Baines (Liu Institute for Global Issues)

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