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Hey CBC, love the video, but it's the "Lesbian Gay Bi Trans" Youth Line

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Hey CBC, love the video, but it's the "Lesbian Gay Bi Trans" Youth Line

Yesterday a group of staff members at the CBC Toronto office released a video entitled "It Gets Better from the folks at the CBC" to mark Bullying Awareness Week in Canada. The video features well-known personalities Sook-Yin Lee, Brett Wilson, Jian Ghomeshi and Brent Bambury recounting their own personal struggles with being bullied growing up. The affecting video also includes contributions by queers such as playwright David Demchuk and CBC Arts writer Sarah Liss.
 
But the message of their video isn't limited to anti-queer harassment: Lee talks about being the only Chinese kid in her class and the racist persecution she suffered as a result; Wilson recounts being chased down the halls repeatedly by a group of bullies; one contributor remembers being constantly mocked for her scoliosis. And while expanding the scope is certainly well intended, laudable even, trying to target all bullied youth diminishes the video's effectiveness and its relevance to queer youth.

Any effort to bring hope to bullied youth should be applauded, and this project is no exception, but the video's departure from the It Gets Better formula leaves this viewer wondering why it's called "It Gets Better."

 
While the majority of the contributors are gay, only three of them explicitly identify in the video as such (Tony Kushner quotes don’t count). And, remarkably, at two points contributors explicitly identify as not gay. Note to Jian (though I'm confident you're already sensitive to this, so perhaps you'll forward this to the video's editors): no one deserves anti-gay bullying, so ending your account of homophobic harassment with an assurance that they got it wrong isn't really going to lift the spirits of a bullied queer teen.

Even the list of resources that concludes the video, the entire point of the exercise, has had its queerness expunged: the Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Youth Line is listed, yet it's identified simply as "YouthLine" (and, as of this posting, "Lesbian Gay Bi Trans" is not even included in the video's description). UPDATE: The video description has been corrected and now reads: "Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Youth Line."


It Gets Better critics have rightly pointed out that bullying goes beyond lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered youth — to race, ethnicity, class, ableism. All can contribute to the hell of being young in environments that demand uniformity and punish those who are different. But, as US President Obama mentions in his own It Gets Better video, the campaign is a response to a rash of queer teen suicides and statistics that show that queer youth have a greater suicide risk than other youth. We can’t fault CBC staff for their commendable effort with this video, but if you’re targeting all bullying, and taking efforts to un-queer your contribution, maybe you should call it something else.

(Psst — this goes for you too, Mr Ignatieff.)
 

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Comments

Ummm... then if "watering
Ummm... then if "watering down" the message is so bad, why did Xtra spend three months before gay pride on the QuAIA bandwagon instead of concentrating on gay issues that REALLY concern us? QuAIA's hijacking of Pride for their own dubious cause is also "watering down" Pride, no matter how much they try to avoid that red herring by pretending it was all a kerfuffle about free speech. It wasn't ... it was about a group that was
a) about supporting a group of homophobes
b) a group whose politics had nothing to do with gay issues...except attacking the one country in the region that DOES support gays - even Palestinian ones!

I agree with the focusing
I agree with the focusing points. We shouldn't water it down. There's been too much of this "all oppressions are inter-related" cant of late, and sometimes it obscures the message and mangles the conversation. Maybe it's cuz I'm old and crusty, but I like to talk about one thing at a time, where possible. I know everything has a social context and that makes everything a part of something else, in theory, but in practise that's an abstraction that's difficult to sustain as a conversation. However, we should acknowledge that gay teens can suffer from all the other problems that kids growing up face. I was bullied in school, not for being gay, but for being small and bookish and unable to hit a baseball. And finally, I do wonder what 85 year olds think of this sudden focus and outpouring of empathy for the allegedly embattled youth of today, as they sit alone and lonely in nursing homes. But that's another topic.
I agree with Justin that
I agree with Justin that including every other discrimination in CBC's "It Get's Better" video waters down the homophobic bullying concern. It's good that they corrected the name of the youth hotline. I didn't recognize anyone as queer besides Sook Yin Lee, so if you come back to read this Justin, could you name the names?btw So disappointed to hear that Jian Ghomeshi is straight...
Well, maybe "the community"
Well, maybe "the community" can take some of the responsibility for this unfocusing, rather than blaming the CBC and others. After all, all human rights issues are definitionally queer issues - isn't that the party line nowadays? Pride is now about Palestine and Israel, and all oppressions are related? So let's not get all fucking pissy when the MSM conflates them all - we're the (queer) ones who started that trend in the first place.
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