Can you tell who’s gay and who’s not? Dwight:
Of course. Michael:
What about Oscar? Dwight:
Absolutely not. Michael:
Well, he is. Dwight:
Well, he’s not dressed in women’s clothes, so… Michael:
There could be others. I need to know. I don’t want to offend anybody else. Dwight:
You could assume everyone is, and not say anything offensive. Michael:
Yeah. I’m sure everyone would appreciate me treating them like they were gay.
(The Office, Season 3, Episode 1, “Gay Witch Hunt”)
* * *
In September 2010, the It Gets Better Project
was launched by the journalist, Dan Savage, in response to suicides committed by students as a result of being bullied for being gay. The essence of the project is very simple – video clips of members and non-members of the gay community telling young gay viewers that “it gets better”; to instill hope in them.
Commendable cause, I’d say.
The school I work for contributed to the project by submitting a video of its gay faculty and staff members individually speaking to the camera, sharing a brief story about their past experience with discrimination, but that “it gets better.”
Again, commendable, I’d say.
Want to know what I’d say isn’t commendable? Showing the video at the school’s annual town-hall type meeting with a preface like, ‘At this school, we truly are pioneers in education. For example, we are addressing the problem of school bullying. Look at this video we made! Someone I showed it to cried after watching it, as did I.’
The same meeting that shows us slides of the construction plans for the new cafeteria being built, complete with a new pizza oven and multiple coffee stations, that we spend 20 minutes collectively oooo-ing and aahh-ing over – that takes place immediately prior to the It Gets Better video.
If the school was trying to highlight its progressiveness or raise awareness for gay bullying, it chose the wrong forum. The only effect the video had was spotlighting the gay employees. They should have given us an outline for the meeting at the start of it so I knew what to expect: ‘Today, we’ll be discussing our budget, office leases, grant funding, the new cafeteria - and, as an encore, we’ll show you all the gays who work here!’
Because this is what my face looked like during and after the video.