Video Tells LGBTQ Students ‘It Gets Better’

Students packed into the Quincy Junior Common Room on Sunday to watch the debut of a Harvard “It Gets Better” video, a montage of students sharing their stories about growing up as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, and queer youths.

The video is patterned after the national “It Gets Better Project,” which was launched in 2010 after a series of suicides of gay teens. The project releases videos to encourage LGBTQ youths to believe in their potential for happiness as adults.

In the Harvard video, LBGTQ students describe their often difficult

experiences discovering their sexual dentities and coming out to their family and friends. The video ends with a message of hope, as each student recounts his or her inspiration for moving forward.

The student who spearheaded the Harvard project, a junior in Quincy House who asked to remain anonymous because he has not yet come out to his family, said his own experience coming out at school last year inspired him to create a Harvard “It Gets Better” video.

“I’ve always remembered feeling pressure and thinking to myself, ‘There must be so many other people here with that same mentality,’” he said.

The Quincy junior said he met with administrators early last November to discuss his project’s potential affiliation with the University. Eventually, he said he chose to forgo an official University endorsement so that the video could apply to all teens, not only to those who end up at Harvard.

After sending out emails to House lists to find students willing to share their stories, the organizer shot the video with a group of students during Wintersession, with funding from the Undergraduate Council.

Schools including the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Yale Divinity School, and Princeton have created similar videos.

“We didn’t have anything like this on campus,” said Scott O. Ahlborn ’12, who helped produce the Harvard video. “This movie had the ability to send a message that people from all different backgrounds and different areas could talk about issues of sexuality and gender in a comfortable space.”

Sophy T. Lee ’12 said she decided to participate because of the impact that other It Gets Better videos had on her own experience coming out. Lee said that the video can apply to anybody who feels different or judged, regardless of sexuality.

“No matter what or who you are, you’re not alone.” Lee said. “Once you reach out, you’ll be shocked by how much people are willing to help.”

The Quincy junior said that he hopes Lady Gaga will watch the video when she comes to Sanders Theatre later this month to launch her anti-bullying effort, the Born This Way Foundation.

“I just hope that people know that they aren’t alone,” he said. “If I can help one person, it would mean the world to me.”

­—Staff writer Melanie A. Guzman can be reached at melanieguzman@college.harvard.edu.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

CORRECTION: Feb. 13, 2012.

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Scott O. Ahlborn ’12 helped edit the Harvard "It Gets Better" video. In fact, Ahlborn helped produce the video but did not edit it.

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