Equality: Different paths, same destination – The “It Gets Better Project”

There has been a number of stories about/involving gay (hereafter “LGBT”) sports personalities in the past 6 months or so. Outsports.com actually listed 27 in a piece from May 19, 2011. That list included athletes, coaches, sports writers, and business executives.

While there has been much debate about gay marriage – it is taking place right now in New York State – there has been less so regarding those LGBT individuals involved with sports. There has been discussion, but not so much a debate. The difference between the two is that one, i.e. debate, brings specific arguments to bear on an issue that is ripe. In the case of New York State, it is whether there should be a bill that allows same-sex couples to marry in the state. It is not predominantly a broader discussion of equality, though that is naturally part of the issue. It is about a specific item that will have a direct impact on people’s rights.

With LGBT in sports, we don’t have a specific item to debate right now. It is still more in the discussion realm. But discussion is good. Actually it is great. Because an issue must be discussed to better understand the points involved, varying perspectives, and possible approaches to joint resolution or acceptance.

The LGBT sports stories in the news in 2011 have increased the amount of discussion. So have the efforts of organizations and individuals alike. One of the more significant efforts we have seen comes from Change.org and the forum it has given individuals to champion for change when it comes to LGBT and tolerance, leveraging the power of sport to drive that effort.

Several individuals have started petitions on Change.org to get their favorite sports team, mostly it has been baseball so far, to join the The It Gets Better*campaign. MLB’s San Francisco Giants were the first professional sports team to join the project and others have either created their own video or committed to do so.

We applaud these teams and especially these fans who leveraged their passion for sports, for their favorite team, and for equality to bring the discussion to the forefront.

*What is the It Gets Better Project?

In September 2010, syndicated columnist and author Dan Savage created a YouTube video with his partner Terry to inspire hope for young people facing harassment. In response to a number of students taking their own lives after being bullied in school, they wanted to create a personal way for supporters everywhere to tell LGBT youth that, yes, it does indeed get better.

Two months later, the It Gets Better Project (TM) has turned into a worldwide movement, inspiring over 10,000 user-created videos viewed over 35 million times. To date, the project has received submissions from celebrities, organizations, activists, politicians and media personalities, including President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Adam Lambert, Anne Hathaway, Colin Farrell, Matthew Morrison of “Glee”, Joe Jonas, Joel Madden, Ke$ha, Sarah Silverman, Tim Gunn, Ellen DeGeneres, Suze Orman, the staffs of The Gap, Google, Facebook, Pixar, the Broadway community, and many more. For us, every video changes a life. It doesn’t matter who makes it.