FOF #1366 – Awkwardly Hip

Apr 21, 2011 · 1985 views

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NOH8, It Gets Better, Lady Gaga, and even YouTube’s Honey Badger- all started out as small projects that grew into viral phenomena when LGBT folks jumped on the bandwagon. What happens when our favorite outsider things become the monster ballads of popular culture?


  1. [nObLe] says:

    <> for the Miss Ronnie reference

  2. [nObLe] says:

    two snaps that is!!!!!

  3. jpw says:

    Enough with the Snide Remarks about the “It Gets Better” Project

    Mark, Fausto:

    Do either of you know _why_ Dan Savage started, “It Gets Better?” I doubt it. Maybe you should listen to the episode of the “Savage Lovecast” podcast which launched it: [It’s the first 5 minutes of the file.]

    If you read Dan Savage’s column or listen to his podcast, you’ll know that he’s been advising LGBT teens to, “hang in there; bide your time; you will graduate, go to college and/or move away to a large city, where your life will no longer be a Living Hell.” He’s been walking the walk _for_ _years_.

    Within 2 weeks, the project hit YouTube’s limit — all from Dan Savage’s fans (something that he points out on his podcast frequently).

    Not hipsters. Not celebrities. Not Obama. Not Hillary. “It Gets Better,” took off because of _regular_ _people_. People who wanted to do _something_.

    So Mark, Fausto … let me put it down sharply: What have _you_ two been doing?

    Your podcasts have been expending a lot of energy slamming the, “It Gets Better,,” project. You regularly have guests on who sneer at it. Not, mind you, sneering at the celebrity poseurs — but at the project itself. Of course, you and yor guest immediately backpedal with, “Oh I’m so glad it exists, but…”, and then go on to slam it _again_.

    Take today’s podcast, for example. You and your guest imply that, “It Gets Better,” is disingenuous because life doesn’t really turn into gumdrops & rainbows. (You’ve done this before in past podcasts with previous guests.) Note that the project is called, “It Gets Better,” not It Gets Perfect. You basically insinuate that, “It Gets Better,” is somehow taking money and attention away from, “The Trevor Project,” when the opposite is true. It’s brought overwhelming attention to, “The Trevor Project.”

    The real kicker, what Pissed. Me. Off. and made me post, however, was when you said, “[…] I want people to get sick of hearing about, ‘It Gets Better,’ to the point that they actually do something about it and improve the lives of young people […]” WTF DO YOU THINK THE PEOPLE MAKING THESE VIDEOS ARE TRYING TO DO?!?!?!?!?!? Again: “It Gets Better” took off because of regular people WHO WANTED TO DO SOMETHING. _You_ blanket-attack the entire project, not the celebrity-wannabes. You are therefore telling the people who are trying to do something that they’re not.

    Celebrities hopping on bandwagons _do_ need to be taken down a peg. Self-serving organizations (*cough*cough*HRC*cough*cough*) _do_ need to be called on the carpet. But you’re not, “taking on the Cool Kids,” you’re just a different clique of Cool Kids throwing verbal barbs others.

    • Hate to sound like a hipster but we blogged about the project when the video only had like 300 views-

      We have full three pages of blog entries dedicated to project

      Is the project brilliant and helpful? yes, Does it also suck? yes.

      I support this project but our audience doesn’t need to hear only the good side of the project, they want to hear an alternative voice.

      If you want Gay Church, go to Gay Church, that’s not what we do.

    • I was one of the first people to blog about It Gets Better. I’m not sure what we’re arguing about– the point of this show was to talk about the uneasy relationship LGBT people have when their projects, bands and causes go mainstream, like NOH8, It Gets Better or even Lady Gaga.

      One problem we all can agree on is that when political actions become trendy, it can lose it’s political impact. People think- “the least I can do to make a video,” and as a result, it’s the least they do. They don’t really get involved, and The Trevor Project doesn’t make a dime. I’m really happy that The Trevor Project, a charity we’ve been championing for a long time is getting the funding it needs because of the trendiness of It Gets Better.

      They will bring the change we need.

      Every show we make is hopefully a window for people everywhere to think about things differently. Hopefully it will make them see things in a happier light, or at least give them some perspective.

      It doesn’t always get better for everyone. But, you can count on us to continue creating this program, to reach out and build a bridge for people to see things differently.

      What political actions, causes you think deserve our attention that aren’t getting any? We hope you keep us informed for the things that matter to you, we’ll try to do the same. Thanks!

      • Angela says:

        A bunch of people started the We Got Your Back Project as a response to It Gets Better, because they claim Dan Savage has said too many racist, biphobic and transphobic things in the past to be a proper ally to other bullied minorities. They also say that yes, making a YouTube video wherein one discusses one’s experience with bullying may be healing for the person making the video, and has some chance of inspiring others to carry on through a hellish adolescence, but doesn’t do much that’s concrete to help, and doesn’t take into account that some people’s lives don’t just “get better” without proactive involvement from concerned peers and adults.

        I think the term “enlightened witness” popularized by Alice Miller is an important one to bring up in regards to how to help abused or bullied youth. Is it enough to make a heartfelt video and hope someone who needs to see it sees it, or does it absolutely have to go to the level of starting a queer alliance at school or an LGBT youth group at church to be seen as doing any good?

    • Andy says:

      In my opinion the “It Gets Better” Project is defiantly a helpful and an effective project to create awareness but it is just one first step to make life easier for young gay guys but by not enough to really change something.

    • jpw says:

      …aaand the responses only reinforce my arguments. I hear a lot of:

      – …*blah*blah*blah* ad-hominem attack on the It Gets Better Project founder *blah*blah*blah*…
      – *blah*blah*blah* blanket-condemnation-of-It-Gets-Better-because-of-trendoid-celebrity-poseurs’-videos…
      – *blah*blah*blah* ignore-actual-content-of-non-celebrity-videos *blah*blah*blah* attack-as-self-therapy-to-boost-your-own-ego *blah*blah*blah*
      – *blah*blah*blah* misinterpreting-It-Get-Better==It-Gets-Perfect *blah*blah*
      – Disheartening and counterproductive statements that it won’t get any better. (So… you _want_ teens to kill themself?)

      So “It Gets Better” isn’t perfect. Duh! It’s an imperfect Universe. Suggest something constructive. Post your own videos telling these teens what the next step(s) are and/or will be. But stop attacking it for the sake of attacking it.

      The handful of FoF blog entries are weak and don’t counterbalance the constant barrage of snide remarks over the course of months.

      And Lastly: I’m harping on the falsehoods you’re pedalling about It Gets Better for one reason: It’s the last straw. What _really_ frosts me is the weekly, sometimes daily, stream of scientificially-false statements. Marc & Fausto, you’re self-professed geeks, yet the scientific illiteracy you exhibit has me doubly-horrified. I’ve been gritting my teeth and trying to let it slide. I can’t anymore.

      • Angela says:

        For the record, I am not engaging in ad hominem against Dan Savage, only paraphrasing what others have said about him: the closest charge of (insert)phobia I can find is the one mentioned at the top of this blog entry I’m linking. And while people’s individual prejudices do not invalidate the objective goodness of goals they pursue (i.e. Margaret Sanger championed abortion rights, but also eugenics), in the land of safe-space advocacy blogs where words like “allies” and “privilege” and “derailing” are kicked around like hackysacks on a daily basis, everyone gets taken to task for their commitment to Sparkle Motion based on the slightest ignorant statement. And thus well-meaning projects like It Gets Better get weighed down by the personalities attached. It may not be logical, but it is human.

        Also, I haven’t noticed anyone using the word “Perfect” except for you, bro. I think we’re all in agreement that “Better” just means not being abused on a regular basis by peers, knowing that authorities will respond appropriately if one does get bashed, and having the coping skills to deal with it when it does happen. And it’s learning stuff like that latter that can’t really be conveyed in inspirational video blogs; that takes real-life involvement (via family, therapy or mentorship), and while again it may be too human to parse project titles like “It Gets Better” as dismissive and hands-off in comparison to the bold declarative “We Got Your Back”, that is how I would have read it when I was being bullied throughout grade school, and how some people read it now.

        So what else should be done? Well the We Got Your Back blog mentions places like Camp Ten Trees that support and hold workshops for LGBT youth over the summer. There are more queer-straight alliances at schools, despite protestations by Christian extremists. Supporting queer youth is really the easy part, though. What really needs doing is taking to task anyone who passively or malevolently encourages the current toxic status quo that keeps everyone on unequal footing and makes it OK for some to be seen as less-than. I saw maybe ONE It Gets Better video where a woman went from telling kids they don’t deserve to be sh*t on to putting massive shame on anyone who sh*ts on others or stands by and lets it happen. It was refreshing, and if anyone’s going to keep making such videos I encourage more talk like that.

        So yeah, how about less imploring kids to buck up (and less fighting amongst ourselves on the internet) and more putting the blame on the people putting them down? What should that be called? “You Should Know Better”?

  4. Bill says:

    I wanted to start off my comment by stating that I have been a fan of the show for quite a while. I try to listen to it everyday at work, when possible.

    While I enjoy your variety of guests, sometimes one will strike a nerve with me. This is the case. I realize that Matt Siegel is the embodiment of hipster, anti-establishment movement, but some of the things he stated today on the show really made my blood boil.

    In regards to his Lady Gaga statements about being over her, that’s fine. You can be into L7, PJ Harvey, Tegan & Sara-esque music all you want, but Top 40 is what drives a lot of society these days. While you may enjoy less mainstream type of music, don’t discount the powerful message that “Born This Way” provides to the LGBT youth. I enjoy all types of music, from heavy metal to mainstream pop to rap, and I have yet to come across one as positive as Lady Gaga’s powerful reinforcement of LGBT equality.

    Also, as someone who works a 9-5 in corporate America and is still an out and proud gay man, I get tired of people who constantly reinforce that gay people need to veer away from the mainstream as much as possible. As much as we all want to be individuals, it’s ideas that go mainstream such as “It Gets Better” that bring a public visibility to our efforts and make living and working outside of gay-oriented environments and neighborhoods safer and more acceptable.

  5. Andy says:

    I guess Matt Siegel will have a great time in Berlin because the city is full more alternative, anti-mainstream guys. If he needs any information about events/parties he can ask me or I can introduce him to friends in Berlin. I suggest to create a profile at “Gayromeo”, a large German/European free gay dating website.

    Here is the article about the Jewish community, particular the gay Jewish community in Berlin, Marc mentioned on the show.

  6. DN says:

    I try really hard to stay positive and appreciate all diversity and points-of-view, but Matt Siegel comes across as a pompous, cynical queen. Perhaps he really SHOULD move to Germany to find his solace or just join the radical faeries or gay shame.

    I’ve been a loyal listener for many, many years, but this episode and all its outward bitterness and negativity (mostly on behalf of the guest) is quite disappointing. Internalize all you want, but you are ironically perpetuating EXACTLY what you’re trying to avoid. A true hipster never admits that he is one.

  7. Curtis says:

    I’ve only made it 6 minutes into the show and I already want to slap Matt. I can already tell this is going to be a discussion about how everything sucks because it’s not being delivered in the way Matt would do it. Well Matt you didn’t do it, these aren’t your ideas. I just find this “eating our own” mentality to be so poisonous, it’s just unpleasant to listen to.

    The “No on Hate” campaign is part political activism and part art project, so dismissing it because you don’t think the photos are gritty and realistic is ignoring that Adam Bouska’s artistic vision, which happens to be about glossy slick post production and bright colors is part of the project.

    I also don’t think dismissing it because it is just “facebook profile pics” is acknowledging the enormous amount of attention it brought to the fight for Equality. It is like the old red ribbons in the 80’s. It is about symbolism and was never meant to be the be-all-and-end-all of involvement in the fight for Equality. Yes some participants may stop at the photo (better than no involvement at all isn’t it?) but for many it may be the first step into broader participation. In my mind if even one person is brought into the fight who might have otherwise ignored it, then it is a success. We know that it has brought thousands into the fight, even in a small way, so it is a HUGE success.

    It may be the least they can do, but what is Matt’s big perfectly executed idea that has brought thousands of people into awareness and into dialogue about Equality?

  8. Curtis says:

    On the positive side, I agree with Matt that the pink triangle was a far more powerful symbol than the rainbow.

  9. Curtis says:

    Fausto’s pink triangle story for me is a perfect illustration of why the symbolism of things like the “No on H8” project do have power and meaning. Isn’t having that photo of yourself on Facebook the modern equivalent of pasting a triangle on your clothing? It is a public stance in favor of the fight for Equality. Isn’t it taking a stand on some level?

    I think you’re also drawing conclusions saying that the only thing people do is post the photo or change their Facebook status. That may just be the first step.

  10. brian says:

    What an interesting show. The ignorant left is just as seemingly dangerous as the ignorant right.

    I agree with some of the sentiment of the bandwagon, and Fausto you described it very well. As an out teacher and teacher educator, I think one of the most dangerous things we can do to young gay youths is to lie to them, but equally damaging is to negatively influence their impressionable purviews or to assume that they don’t have any.

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