In September 2010, syndicated columnist and author Dan Savage created a YouTube video with his partner, Terry Miller, to inspire hope in young people facing harassment.
The It Gets Better Project was created to show members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community the levels of happiness, potential, and positivity their lives will reach that they are not alone; and it will get better. The It Gets Better Project has become a worldwide movement, inspiring more than 50,000 user-created videos, including one produced at Keuka College.
The moving force behind the Keuka video was Charles Scheetz, assistant director of financial aid.
“I believe in the It Gets Better mission, and I believe it does get better,” said Scheetz. “Most of the videos on the It Gets Better website are individuals telling their stories about how it got better for them, and that is wonderful.”
However, Scheetz wanted Keuka’s video to have a larger impact. So he talked with Chevy DeVaney, director of multicultural affairs; Joesph Spulick, a senior-to-be and biology major from New Brunswick, N.J. and president of the College’s PRIDE Club, and co-coordinator of the LGBTA Resource Center; and the duo behind E&T Productions— Eugene Mont, resident director of Ball Hall and retention counselor, and Tim White, resident director of Byley and Harrington Halls and retention counselor.
“This subject means a lot to me,” said Spulick. “However, the goal was to speak to all members of the Keuka community, which is important. Expanding the idea of It Gets Better to everyone, no matter who they are, really encompasses the overall goal for everyone in a community to come together and help each other.”
“Charles’ enthusiasm spread over into us,” said White, who envisioned a campus-wide theme for the video. “The visual story I wanted to paint was going beyond what the project videos were already doing. Simple, but powerful interviews were the norm. I wanted to tell a story.”
“In the video, we show a single student, and then one by one, more people from across campus join her, and more voices are heard,” said Scheetz. “Through the video, we wanted to show that no matter who you are, where you come from, or how you feel, there is someone on campus with their door open who is willing to talk to you.”
The participants in the video include students, staff, faculty, and College President Dr. Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera.
“The purpose of the Keuka video is to show our support for anyone who has ever felt alone, unwanted, or unsupported,” said Díaz-Herrera.
“Everyone wants to feel supported in their journey through life,” he said.
“This video was a great venue not only to address an important issue, but to let our own students, faculty, and staff know that no matter what is going on in their lives that there are folks here who are willing to listen and help them through the difficult times,” said DeVaney. “I believe it sends a message that the College cares, and we recognize that the issues raised through such awareness affect us all. The responses we have received from the community so far have been amazing and supportive. We did not do this because we wanted to feel good about ourselves, but because we recognized that there was a need and wanted to address that need.”
Added Scheetz: “This is not the end of the videos we intend to make—it’s not ‘one and done.’ We intend to meet over the summer and plan more videos and interview people telling their stories. We hope to have another video ready sometime during the fall semester.”
To watch Keuka’s version of the It Gets Better Project video, click: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4LH9Fwb-ug
More information about the It Gets Better Project can be found at http://www.itgetsbetter.org/.