Last September, I found myself in the whirlwind of the local reaction to the suicide of Justin Aaberg. In talking with his mother, Tammy, I knew that something will come from this to help galvanize the LGBT community and the world.
Advice columnist Dan Savage took the lead in this reaction to the Aaberg's and other related suicides of young gay teens. The spark that began by recording a viral video with his partner as a way to reach out to other gay teens turned into the cause celebre of these times. From President Barack Obama to the San Francisco Giants, from Lady Gaga to another young gay person a continent away – the mantra of "It Gets Better" resonated through YouTube and other social media outlets with a resounding call.
Benefitting from the impact of these videos was the many resources geared towards assisting LGBT youth. The Trevor Project was the key benefactor of this effort as identified by Savage and all of the video participants as the primary national outlet to help those in need. Regional and local organizations and centers also welcomed the efforts of thousands of videos posted to provide positive messages to youth to simply "hang in there" through the bullying and negativity as they strive towards a space to be free and honest in their lives.
The automotive industry has not been visibly present in these efforts – until now. While Toyota Motor Sales USA's Spectrum assisted The Trevor Project at Christopher Street West/L.A. Pride this past weekend, General Motors released the video above through their YouTube page. The video features GM employees who are members of GM PLUS – the employee resource group for the company – and corporate allies in an emotional and honest effort towards bridging the great people of GM with youth in need of these positive images.
As an out, gay automotive writer/blogger/journalist, I am extremely proud to bear witness to this video. It comes at the right time when the momentum of Dan Savage's work is far from yielding. It also opens the door to Detroit and the rest of the automotive industry to do the same – to give their employees an opportunity to reach out to LGBT youth and demonstrate that it does get better if they simply hang on and move forward with their lives.
My sincerest thanks to the great people of GM for doing this. I am proud to be working with you on material related to your products and fin this as another validation of being out and proud of what I do regardless of demographic reading this blog.
If you read this and are feeling lost in your world as an LGBT person – young or old – please watch the video.
NOTE: The video is no longer available via YouTube
Photo by Randy Stern