LGBT Voices: Becoming Myself
Life stories offer messages of hope| From Commonwealth | By Leslie Friday. Video by Robin Berghaus. Photos by Vernon Doucette
Zac Brokenrope (SED’12) is one of many students, faculty, and staff in the LGBT community who shared their stories with Bostonia and BU Today.
Last September alone, the suicides of at least four gay teens made headlines. No doubt there were more that didn’t make the papers and news sites. During the same month, the LGBT advocacy group Campus Pride conducted a nationwide survey of 5,000 gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered college students, faculty, and staff. A quarter of them said they had been harassed for their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Dan Savage, a columnist at Seattle’s alternative weekly The Stranger, chose the moment to launch the video series “It Gets Better” with a video of him and his partner talking about the pain of growing up gay and about the point at which their lives got better.
Savage’s site, which invites all people to share their stories, has more than 5,000 videos, posted by members of the LGBT community and straight supporters, and has had millions of visitors.
Inspired by Savage’s project, Bostonia and BU Today invited members of BU’s LGBT community to share their own experiences.
Joe Solmonese (COM’87), president of Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, calls this a “tipping-point moment,” one in which the United States is “poised to really make some very significant strides in matters of LGBT equality.”
“Unfortunately, in those tipping-point moments there’s the greatest resistance,” he says. “We see people empowered to be out and open about who they are and then we see the measures of violence and bullying all of a sudden in a more significant way.”
Solmonese says he appreciates Savage’s project. Growing up in Attleboro, Mass., a place he calls “not diverse or worldly,” he was harassed, teased, and called names for being gay. At BU, he says, he was impressed by the diversity of the University’s student body. “Even though I wasn’t out while I was in school,” Solmonese says, “BU did instill in me that sense that I could do anything I wanted to do and be anything I wanted to be.”