Last week, memoirist Dan Savage launched a video channel on YouTube to support teens struggling with bullies and suicide. In only a few days, the campaign has gone viral with celebrities like Zachary Quinto, Jake Shears, and Kathy Griffin sharing their stories of solace and encouragement.
Why are we waiting for permission to talk to these kids? We have the ability to talk directly to them right now. We don’t have to wait for permission to let them know that it gets better. We can reach these kids.
So far, few authors have joined the conversation on YouTube, but hopefully more Young Adult novelists will lend their voices to the “It Gets Better” mantra—especially writers like David Levithan, Malinda Lo, Nick Burd, and Dale Peck.
The comfort and support that LGBT Young Adult books provide to teens is vastly underrated; Young Adult authors can make a huge impact on the lives of questioning LGBT youth. Rachel Wexelbaum’s Confessions of a Librarian Column is filled with the stories of librarians who attest to the power of LGBT YA books.
Earlier this year, LLF Board Member and Lambda Literary Award winner Nicola Griffith testified to the influence that one of her novels had on the life of a woman in the US.
A woman in the Midwest approached me at a convention: No, she didn’t want to chat, but she thought I ought to know that Ammonite had literally saved her life: she had been planning to kill herself but instead, for six months, read the book cover to cover, over and over, endlessly, immersing herself in a world of women until she knew it was okay to be a woman, to stay alive and become herself.
The truth speaks for itself. Our books have the potential to sway readers—especially teens—away from making life-shattering decisions and guide them toward hope.
As we honor and celebrate National Coming Out Day, please take the time to lend support to both Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” campaign and the Lambda Literary Foundation. It’s as easy as sending this link to a friend.