It Gets Better

By Kimberly Lord - 05.20.2011

While watching evening TV with my kids recently, I’ve come across a 90-second spot called It Gets Better sponsored by Google. It features a number of different pop culture celebrities and other not so well known people addressing the fact that being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender gets better as you get older.  The call to action is stated on the project’s website . “Many LGBT youth can’t picture what their lives might be like as openly gay adults.  They can’t imagine a future for themselves.  So let’s show them what our lives are like, let’s show them what the future may hold in store for them.”

The TV commercial spawned several conversations with my kids, niece and nephew about how being gay is in high school today is different than it was when I was in school twenty-plus years ago. Then I asked one of my dearest friends from high school, who has been with her partner for 17 years – “has it gotten better?”  Her response was so insightful I’m compelled to share it here:

I had no knowledge that living with a woman would be in my future when I was in high school, so I didn’t have the hard high school experience as many do.  I did struggle enormously with my new-found “identity” when I realized I might be gay.

It took me about ten years to come through that process and land where I am now, by which I mean, fully accepting of myself, happy, healthy and completely at ease with the world.  When I think of why it’s gotten better, there are two components: Society is more accepting and I am fully out.

Society is more accepting: While it’s certainly true that the fundamentalists continue to raise holy hell about the evils of homosexuality, for the most part it has gotten infinitely better in terms of people being more accepting of gay and lesbians than ever before. A defining moment for me was when Ellen came out publicly in 1997. I had just started my first corporate job and was out personally but very closeted professionally.  I couldn’t ever imagine being out at work.

Since then, we’ve seen infinitely more gay images (Will and Grace, Modern Family, every reality show has the requisite gay) and I think people are just more accepting that gay people exist and bring some value (even if you wouldn’t necessarily want to have your kid be one – we get that a lot) it’s just more accepted.

Additionally, a lot more people live “out” now than did in 1988 and I think as a result there is a whole generation of kids who’ve grown up with gay aunts and uncles (thinking of my own adult nieces/nephews) for whom being gay is really just not an issue.

My own neighborhood is a great testament to the tolerance and acceptance among many people. It’s not everywhere, but the parents in our neighborhood not only accept, but encourage interaction with their kids. I think those views are reflected in generational polls. So it really has gotten better since 1988 in terms of the acceptance among society at large. Read more »