Opinion: It Gets Better, Except for Scott Brown

Much was made last week after U.S. Sen. Scott Brown declined to appear in an anti gay suicide video put together by the Massachusetts' congressional delegation. But he's being unfairly criticized.

I never imagined I'd be in the position of defending Senator Scott Brown, but I guess I have no choice.

First some background: Several American teens committed suicide last year, the apparent result of being bullied because they were gay or because their peers suspected that they were gay. Dan Savage, an ex-video store clerk turned sex-advice columnist and TV personality, reacted by putting up a YouTube video.

Savage told a Miami Herald reporter that, “I was just stewing on the kids, and the reaction you always have as a gay adult is ‘I wish I could have talked to that kid,’ to have been able to tell him it gets better.”

“You can have a totally wonderful, rewarding adult gay life. A lot of gay kids don’t know that. You wish you could tell him that it gets better and that was the phrase rattling around in my head.”

This was a fitting, even touching, response to a heartbreaking situation.

The ‘It Gets Better’ video project took off, with other people, eventually 10,000, putting up their own videos, telling their personal stories and expressing themselves.

And, then, it turned into something more. Celebrities, movie and TV stars, and NY theater people all put up videos. President Obama posted a video. The Boston Red Sox produced one.

Last week, the Massachusetts' delegation to the US Congress released its own video. The only missing politician was sole Republican Sen. Scott Brown.

All hell broke loose (at least on the internet). The Boston Globe editorialized about it. Fox25 covered it. Local media pundits David Bernstein and Dan Kennedy both responded. Universal Hub and Bay Windows chimed in, too. Online commenters criticized the Senator for opting out, questioning his motives and wondering what it all meant.

Not I. By now, I’ve grown tired of the whole ‘It Gets Better’ project. What began as a sincere, personal response has grown into something akin to Frankenstein’s monster.  Dane Cook, Justin Bieber, and Ke$sha have made videos. The Gap has a video. The World Bank has a video.

Can you really consider appearing in a video to be a litmus test?

As much an issue for me is what our culture exists on, in this day and age. Whenever something good takes place, we have the nasty habit of turning it into something awful, by draining any life out of it, by taking it to its extreme.

There was the video, then more videos, then Savage put out a book, then Google put him in a commercial, then they made it into a web advertisement. What's next, t-shirts, a mini-series, and a superhero cartoon?

And, it’s not as if we didn’t already know where Scott Brown stands on issues affecting the GLBTQQIUA communities. He’s a sometimes friend, sometimes foe. He voted against gay marriage/marriage equality as a Massachusetts state senator but he also voted to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’.

So, he’s ambiguous. (God, that must annoy people.)

By not appearing in the video, do you think Scott Brown doesn’t care about bullying, about being picked on, about feeling different or left-out as a teenager? If so, you haven’t read his book.

And, are you surprised that Senator Brown chose not to participate? Dan Savage is someone who has never hidden his disgust with conservatives, nay, Republicans.

Two years ago, he sponsored an online contest that led to the term santorum (after ex-Pennsylvania Senator and US presidential candidate Rick Santorum), showing up #1 in Google Search results as “the frothy mix of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the byproduct of anal sex.”

This is someone who remarked a Republican candidate in Pennsylvania “should be dragged behind a pickup truck until there's nothing left but the rope.”

A couple weeks ago, Dan Savage said about Republicans, “I wish they were all fucking dead.”

Commenting on his remarks would no doubt include him defending them as “said in jest” or, as he already has about his most recent outburst, that he had been drinking. And, probably something like, 'I am just a columnist who comments on what’s happening out there, whereas those people are public figures who should be held accountable for their words and actions.'

Which is true. Dan Savage is nothing more than a member of the sad socio-political popular-culture we unfortunately live in. Nothing more than that.

So, I really think you should let Senator Brown off the hook in this case. It’s a lot of hubbub about nothing.

Oh, and I have this to say to Dan Savage: You’re a classless, vulgar person.

And I haven’t been drinking.

Christine August 03, 2011 at 02:37 AM
yes, I agree totally. And what's unfortunate is: where is the voice for all of the *thousands* of teens that commit suicide every year? Being gay isn't the only reason they do it, in fact far from it. The ad wasn't so much about a message as it was about politics & control & I'm glad he didn't do it.
Gary Joseph Gonsalves Jr. August 03, 2011 at 06:36 PM
What I think is more telling is that Scott Brown was giving a paid speech at Manulife when the rest of lawmakers were focused on making a difference. I don't care who jumps on the bandwagon. Dane Cook may be a dick but he clearly speaks to some people in our society so good for him for reaching out to his demographic. This isn't about Brown not making a video so much is it's about Brown not caring about GBTL youth. He's voted against the GBTL community innumerable times. And his lackey's response to questions about his nonappearance were just as insulting, he was supposedly "working hard to create jobs." How, by hiring a driver to take him to his paid speaking engagement? He has more compassion for getting reelected than he does for gay teens murdering themselves.
Andy Carpentier August 04, 2011 at 02:20 PM
The video was not about Savage - that is a red herring. No one need be an apologist for Savage to participate in this video. Scott Brown is too busy off doing book appearances - I think you can catch him today in Newburyport. He DOES have a personal story to tell. It just might have more credibility than any of the other in this MA video.


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