President Obama Says It Gets Better

President Obama has made an It Gets Better video. You’re going to watch this and then you’re probably going to have +/-30 conflicting feelings, because the man in this video represents a series of unmet promises and yet also real, true hope and results (w/r/t getting people excited and moved enough to vote and convince other people to vote, if nothing else).

+

Obama says really perfect things like:

“I don’t know what it’s like to be picked on for being gay, but I do know what it’s like to grow up feeling that sometimes you don’t belong.”

as well as:

“You are not alone. You didn’t do anything wrong. You didn’t do anything to deserve being bullied.”

And then he says this, about how enduring discrimination will ultimately make you more capable of empathy and therefore also empower you with a greater understanding of how to combat the discrimination you once faced, along with other forms of discrimination:

“It means you’ll be more likely to understand personally and deeply why it’s so important that, as adults, we set an example in our own lives, and that we treat everybody with respect.”

This statement is obviously one that we agree with like whoa. Unfortunately it’s also one that seems to be in contrast to um, his whole deal when it comes to ‘setting an example’ by way of ‘changing laws so that everyone is actually equal without a loophole.’

I’ve added my thoughts to this last quote in bolded brackets and basically I’m just going to leave it at that. I’m glad he made this video, I really am. I think it sends a message to adults more so than to teens, and I think that’s exactly where the message needs to be sent. I just wonder how he can say it with such a straight face, I guess. I don’t know. I don’t want to be cynical about this but really I’m just exhausted with the world at large.

“As a nation, we’re founded on the belief that all of us are equal and that each of us deserves the freedom to pursue our own version of happiness [MARRIAGE?]; to make the most of our talents [ENDA?]; to speak our minds; to not fit in; but most of all, to be true to ourselves [DADT?]. That’s the freedom that enriches all of us. That’s what America is all about [JUST AS SOON AS CONGRESS VOTES ON IT].”


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68 Comments

  1. Sara

    So I guess in light of this and his administration’s actions on DADT, we can pretty effectively say that his 2012 campaign platform will go from “Change we can believe in,” to “Do as I say, not as I do.”

  2. Bizzle

    Great commentary at the end. That’s all that needs to be said. =\ and I agree this message needs to be sent to the adults.

    Also, I had to stop watching midway through and just listen bc the man blinks a bajillion times and it started giving me a complex.

  3. mae

    i really want to punch his lights out.

    • Donna

      Comments like yours wanna make me want to punch your lights out! But violence leads to nothing and your comment is way sh*tty because this president has had more claims on his life than ANY other in history! What your personal crap has not been taken care of in 2 yrs? Get your but out and vote in a couple of weeks!! Geez.

      • fit for a femme

        Personal crap, eh? C H O I C E.

      • mae

        i’m going to ignore the fact that i am 1. not american, 2. pro obama and 3. not old enough to vote and get to the fact that his inaction regarding lgbt rights is half the problem! i’m growing up in a world where the laws made up by supposed responsible adults tell me that i can’t marry the one i love because of who i am. this is telling people it is ok to bully lgbt teens (and adults) because ‘they are different, unequal – the legislation says so’.
        sure, his video was nice and shows he actually gives a crap, but he needs to get his act together and realise that he is the one that can make a real difference.

  4. I still really love him, you know. But more and more, as time goes on, I find that I really love him less and less. You know?

    I don’t know. I still miss Hillary.

    • Donna

      Things were gonna move any faster with Hillary?? Really??

      • JanisBing

        Sure they were. She wouldn’t have wasted time trying to be “bipartisan” (ie catering to special interests).

        • aren’t we considered “special interests” though? I’m not American, so I’m not the most informed.

          • JanisBing

            Neither am I (France ftw!) but you’re right, we kinda are. I was referring to corporate lobbyists though. Obama is playing the bad cop to Republican “good cops”

          • If i were you i´d worry about Sarkozy not Obama. Now he as been doing some real pandering to the far right.

          • JanisBing

            Well, that’s no surprise. Sarkozy got elected that way: he stole the “Front National” votes by running on xenophobia and “family values”. Obama presented himself as an actual alternative, and turned out to be a conservative plant (no change on DOMA, DADT, no real health care or financial reform, Guantanamo still open, you guys are still in nonsensical wars, he okayed illegal assassinations, renewed the PATRIOT act… how is he any different from Bush?) And of course he did the classic PR LGBT video right before the midterms.

          • You guys? I´m Icelandic. But our government does suffer from chronic incompetence.

            And i do thing introducing Universal healthcare must count for something even though it has yet to go into effect.

            And there has been great financial reform, maybe not enough but it´s still quite something.

            I have the feeling the democrats are waiting for the election next month before doing more sweeping chances. Sadly after all Gay emancipation is not a winning strategy in many places.

          • JanisBing

            Ah sorry, I automatically think I’m talking to Americans here :) I’d say you officially come from the best country on Earth, for what it’s worth.

            However, Obama didn’t introduce universal health care at all. He made deals with insurance companies so that they would behave themselves and not raise premiums, which they obviously did anyway. Also, they stopped covering kids. Like, completely. His reform didn’t have a public option, just a “mandate” which was supposed to lower costs, but I personally call that a bailout.

            His insurance reform was a front. He didn’t do anything about derivatives, basically we’re still in a “too big to fail, let them regulate themselves” mindset, which ensentially caused the financial crisis in the first place.

          • This is probably not the ideal forum for this debate even though i enjoy it but on a final note

            And some point people are just being ungrateful(on the healthcare and financial stuff). there is only so much that can be changed in a society over such a short period of time with out it all going to the dogs. And America is already alarmingly close to tearing itself apart.

            And i do agree that most of the things he´s been criticized here for are true. But people should remember all the good he´s done. Even if it wasn´t the best possible outcome it´s still a pretty good improvement. and in this world you can´t hope for much more.

  5. e

    i have so many feelings about obama. i was crying during his acceptance speech on election day. my mom had just found out i was gay and told me that she “wanted a daughter” so yeah. then the speech started like twenty minutes after that. and he kept talking about change and righting our wrongs and how the next four years would be difficult. i knew he was mostly talking about the economy, but in my head i was thinking, ‘this is about me. your mom may not be progressive but this guy is. so maybe things will get better.’ it was naive and stupid of me to connect it with my gayness, but whatevs. so i don’t know. i want to believe this man cares about us. i want to believe it so bad, because i think i’ll be heartbroken otherwise. but i’ve felt like we’ve been a political pawn and its so fucking frustrating. you don’t play games with the people you care about. especially not when they’re jobs, happiness, and LIVES are at stake.

    • e

      *their

      intense feelings affect my grammar

      • i do think if he gets to a second term — and honestly at this point my qualms aren’t with his desire to coast into a second term, where he can really make change, but with the fact that right-wing extremists seem so successful in changing the political climate that we really need our left-wing extremists to step it up, and i don’t know if this tepid policy is doing him any favors — things are gonna change. but it is hard. to have the patience.

  6. m

    i agree…except, congress has to vote on things. that’s how it works.

  7. Dina

    I have so many conflicting feelings about Obama. While I am frustrated as hell about the laws that haven’t been passed, I also recognize that there is a SHITTON of other crap going on that’s also clamoring for everyone’s attention. So IDK.

    • fit for a femme

      I love that he thinks continued, concerted efforts to deprive a minority group of their basic human rights isn’t tantamount to bullying.

      Telling gay kids that bullying will help them grow up to be empowered little gay activists teeming with compassion to fight for their own basic human rights against their childhood bullies all grown up feels a little victim-blamish to me, even WITH the “it’s not your fault you’ve been bullied” disclaimer above it.

      Wake up, people, it’s not just kids being bullied; WE’RE ALL BEING BULLIED.

      I just think of all the gay couples whose lives as seniors or widows or parents are completely shafted specifically because they haven’t got the same legal rights and protections in life and death as straight people do.

      Where’s the respect and dignity and decency and compassion there?

      I am constantly thinking of older gay and lesbian couples who’ve spent big portions of their lives together, who have died or will die without the right to marry one another legally. They’re out there. It’s happening. Our youth are killing themselves. Our elders are dying without the liberty of marrying the person they love.

      We’ve been giving the man a break since he stepped into office. He continues to let us down, to contradict himself, largely ignoring us except to shame us or deprive us of equality or to flick platitudes our way. Calling him a hypocrite isn’t unkind, it’s honest.

      This video, on the surface, is a nice gesture. I hope it does make a difference to kids out there. I hope bullies see it and feel shame and give queer kids a fucking break.

      To make a real difference, though, it’s going to take a lot more than a video carrying a message that’s flawed because it doesn’t align with real action(s) thus far.

      • Lauren

        Thank you for summarizing basically all of my most pertinent feelings on this topic so eloquently. Win.

  8. shannon

    I’m confused. His tie is not perfectly dimpled. I thought that was the primary motivation/perk of becoming president: you will have a team of people to make sure your tie is always perfectly dimpled.

  9. KZ

    Does anyone else think Obama should be in an Old Spice ad?

    • Dina

      “Look at your leader. Now look at me.”

      (I suppose that would only work outside the US though)

      • dee

        But it would SO work. If I look at my leader (Australia, Prime Minister Julia Gillard) and I look at Barack Obama, I think, “that’s the leader my leader COULD govern like”.

        • lol when I look at my leader, war-monger, anti-abortionist, anti-gay, anti-Canadian people, hair-helmetted Stephen Harper, all I can think is “dear baby Jesus. Please send us Obama. We’ll know what to do with him.”

  10. heather

    it seems like he only started taking dadt seriously after the, highly publicized, suicides. with that being said, it’s hard for me to find the sincerity in this.

    my two cents.

    • Donna

      Sincere or not he has put forth an effort and has said it! He is the President of the United States and that says alot when one puts this out there!

      • Who

        You are kind of coming across as an Obamastan.

  11. greenluv1322

    So his leadership on this issue means nothing to you guys. Do you all really think Hillary would have done more? Not likely. People don’t seem to realize that she works for him and can only do the things she does as HIS Sec. of State. I know it’s frustrating but he is one of those people who like to do things systematically. I don’t even like the “It Gets Better” campaign. But, the very good good thing about this guy and his loony “beliefs” is that he doesn’t let them dictate his policies.

    • Camille

      I’m not trying to start an argument, but I think that maybe if you don’t like the “It Gets Better” campaign, it’s not for you?
      I’m 17 and I’ve been out for almost a year, and I live in a city that feels/acts like a small town, and most of the days are good but sometimes I have days were I feel like the town is sucking me in and I’ll never escape.
      Like when someone calls me a “dyke” and I want to cry and I do and then I spend the night on YouTube looking at people who escaped the sucking town and fell in love with someone and went to college and did cool things and I feel like waking up the next morning and counting down the days until it does get better.
      I don’t understand how you could dislike something that’s aimed at helping people who’ve been knocked down, to get back up. It got better for you — some of us are still waiting.

    • foist

      No one can say for sure if Hillary would have done more or not but I do know that if she makes a promise, she sure as hell is gonna keep it.

  12. I often find myself wondering if politicians say that they have one stance because it’s all they can do and still win elections, but really, they have another opinion.

    For example, I have often wondered if Obama says that he doesn’t believe that gays should marry simply to keep all the lunatics at bay and still have a fighting chance. But really, deep down, he knows we’re all equal and we should all have the same rights, including getting married.

    It sounds ridiculous, but almost all the states that have had the chance have made same-sex marriage illegal. It’s like saying you’re against it is the only politically palatable thing to do.

    Ugh, I wish our country were not full of idiots who still think being gay is a choice and that we’re somehow less equal for it.

    • It’s possible I’m delusional and simply holding firmly to irrational beliefs to avoid a perpetual state of depression, but I think this is true.

      Back in 1996, Obama favored marriage equality. I can’t imagine many people truly move from supporting equality to supporting something less; I think his present stance is entirely a product of political calculations.

      The upside to this is that it allows me to assume that a clearly intelligent man like Obama understands that equality matters. The obvious downside is that it forces me to concede that he understands that equality matters and is still willing to throw out equality for political capital. Which is frustrating/disheartening.

      • I’ve had a similar feeling about him from the beginning of his campaigning. That he does have strong moral beliefs that favor equal rights and that he’s actually much more progressive than he lets on, but politics are at such a state right now that he wouldn’t be where he is if he didn’t pander to the extremists on the opposite side. Which is really sad. And makes me want to tune out all politics and conversation about government because fuck. It’s just so fucked up right now. Maybe it always has been, I don’t know.

        WHY CAN’T PEOPLE JUST BE REAL FOR A MINUTE AND SAY WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN??? fuck

        i think i feel better now. sorry you had to see that.

          • Katie

            I read an awesome article in the New Yorker talking about how Paladino has more than once compared himself to Howard Beale…who did not have the greatest reputation/fate. Some radio host said, “inviting comparison with Howard Beale is a litte like citing Lennie from ‘Of Mice and Men’ on the issue of rabbit husbandry.”

          • Or Tom Joad as an advocate for repealing Minimum Wage.

  13. Alice

    I think I see the use of green-screen as really symbolic of the video as a whole – this video is remarkable because of the relative apathy of those who came before, but it’s a talking point rather than a genuine way of connecting with people.

    I’m blase about politicians generally, and agree with reise that the Dems need to create a space for left-wing extremists, the way that Republicans have made a space for right-wing nutjobs. None of the extreme ideas will make it to the forefront (or at least they shouldn’t, tea partiers), but most politicians want to be in the middle, so they can say they’re moderate. We need to help stake out more favorable extremes so that equality becomes a moderate stand.

    While I’m glad that Obama and Clinton made videos, I’m way more moved and excited by the gay muslim guy who talked about coming out to his father, or the two teachers who made a video while somewhat disguised, because they don’t feel that they can be out at work and keep their jobs. Presidents don’t often have the luxury of expressing deep, gut-level passions openly, but calculated dispassion is really not getting enough done – we need our leaders to do more to blend the two.

  14. I appreciate the video. And while I’m disappointed by his unfulfilled promises to the LGBT community, isn’t he just saying that he’s against bullying and suicide? Do we have to jump on his back for that? Imagine being a teenager and hearing that THE PRESIDENT thinks your shit is lame and you need to stop teasing the gay kids. I’d like to think this isn’t that political.
    Though, I am thinking, “You are the president, so like… this video could be on TV right?”
    It totally could.

    • I had some optimistic moments like this while watching the video, too. Like, he’s saying the word gay and using the therm LGBT. He’s actually talking to US on a national level. The president is trying to relate to US. Politics are shifting enough for this to be an issue he is addressing whether because he actually cares that much or because the rest of the country cares enough that it’s an important talking point. It’s something, and historically I feel like it’s maybe kind of huge.

      But yeah I’m cynical too and just wish his actions would match his words a little better.

      • Mia

        Of course he cares. If he didn’t care, he would have no reason to make this video. We have to remember that change takes time, and shit storming the republicans isn’t going to accomplish anything. They are already fired up enough to shoot at the capital and vandalize our senators’ offices. President Obama couldn’t accomplished everything he wanted right away in the best-cased scenario. The conservative party is scared because they lost control, so they are throwing out everything they have in a calculated effort to cause doubt. It is upsetting to know that other people are feeding into it. I’m not cynical; I’m a realist. Politics move slow. They involve proposals, reports, red tape, and opposition. Laws do not pass overnight, and people aren’t going to change just because we want them to. Things will happen when they happen. I used to canvas for democrats, and the only thing that pissed me off more than republicans canvasing were the other democrats, I worked with, who would piss off people whom I wanted to vote with me. They had no idea how to represent themselves, and although they said they stood for the same things I did, they really didn’t care about it in the same way. I hated my own in a red state, and as much as it killed me, we had to work together. That’s what it’s like for our country. I don’t get hung up on every little thing. I’m more concerned with what is happening overall. I think that politics should be personal for the most part. Sometimes, I wish that things were like they used to be when politics and religion weren’t discussed at the dinner table and people cared about getting along with each other. I know I wasn’t alive back then, but it’s the thought that counts.

  15. Daisy @ Tinnitus Treatment

    This is the best way to convey the message to gay individual that they are not alone. It also prompted people to post videos on YouTube and share their experiences as queer individuals and how life has gotten better after high school.

  16. SJ

    To be honest, I tuned out of politics for a while bc of the political climate. I honestly think that we need to understand change isn’t instant. We put alot of emphasis on quick policies but to be realistic it needs to be gradual even if that seems it’s taking forever. I mean how many of you get frustrated if a webpage takes forever to load or if your phone starts acting slow because it decided to have a mind on its own. Our generation is so based on the now and having things instantly. Basically the point I’m making is that yeah the president is lacking the speed to fullfill his promises but it takes time to make those long term goals.

    • QueenNaxen

      Agreed. I mean, wow, Obama is trying to salvage a situation, an economic bubble, that’s been building since the dollar got off the gold standard, if I’m not mistaken. That’s like 50 years of inflated expectations. CANNOT be fixed overnight. As for the lack of action and unfulfilled promises, hell, I’m guessing the guy had to pick which of a bunch of bad situations was most critical.

    • Krrru

      As much as I wish what you just said wasn’t true, it kinda is. Unfortunately a lot of the real change especially when it comes to policies takes political game playing and waiting for the right time and laughing at the jokes of people you despise.

      Also takes a lot of time but I think the main thing is are we making progress? And it might be worth asking would the progress be happening any faster under someone else’s leadership? Except for the Rent is too Damn high party because we all know that guy would have created homo heaven already.

  17. Renee P

    I have to say, I rarely read the comments section after an article or video anymore out of fear that my head will explode from all the ignorance and hatred… but this was a pleasure to read. Each and every one of us spoke our mind without calling names, questioning legitimacy or outright lying. It’s a nice reminder that people may disagree, but can still speak with civility to one another. That said, I feel the same as most on this comment section, conflicted and happ and sad all at the same time. I tell myself over and over again, change and transition take time, especially in the hypertensive climate we are in. We all just have to remember to breathe and to hold fast to what we believe in and who we love.

  18. Judy King

    Sorry so many of you are impatient for President Obama to implement all of the policies he promoted during the election. Delaying the change/gratification is not easy when you have been a target of discrimination, but being cynical and hateful doesn’t make change come any faster. Timing, tact, and dosage are powerful constructs to remember as we try to navigate this rightwing, conspiratorial election cycle and elect pro-choice, pro-LBGT, and pro-DADT Abolishing Senators. For long-lasting change, DADT should be repealed by the Congress and Senate. Keep up the pressure for that change.

  19. Abbie

    So he’s not only telling gay kids to “deal with it” when it comes to bullying (because it’ll make you a stronger person!!!), he’s also pretty much telling them that it gets better when they become strong adults. Does it really get better when you’re actively fighting DADT? When you’re actively against gay marriage? What’s better for these kids when they grow up, according to your presidency? Nothing. This whole thing leaves a terrible taste in my mouth.

    Mr. President, if you really want to send a message that it gets better, MAKE IT BETTER.

  20. Jen

    OMG, the PRESIDENT made a video to tell poor gay kids it gets better. He signed the Matthew Sheppard Act. He’s working to repeal DADT in such a way that it wont get thrown out later. I’ve been a member of the USAF for 11 years. If there’s anyone that wants to see the policy repealed, it’s me! But it’s coming. It’s light years ahead of where we were two years ago. Two years is not a long time when you’re talking about changing law. He didn’t have to make this video. It doesn’t seem political to me, it seems heartfelt. I still support our President. Imagine where we’d be with McCain!

  21. i don’t know. i like that he did this. i see where people are justified in calling him a hypocrite, but i appreciate this video for what it is.

  22. You were right. I do have +/-30 conflicting feelings about this video. I want change, and I want it now. I wanna live in a country that respects me as a fucking human being, and I feel like Obama has left me with nothing more than a bunch of empty promises. However, at the exact same time, I refuse to blame everything on one man who actually has limited power as per the checks and balances system we have set-up in this country. Congress, who doesn’t seem to be able to ever get shit done, is responsible for legislation. I feel like things won’t stick if he just runs around throwing out executive orders. It seems like putting a band-aid on an open wound. Who’s to say that the next anti-gay president won’t bust in and turn everything around, and there’s nothing that can be done to stop him/her since those changes weren’t written in stone? It SUCKS, but I feel like we have to do it the right way which always inevitably seems to be the long way. Also, what if John McCain was president right now? Would we even be having this discussion in the first place? I don’t feel like ANY videos would have been made at all. We might have gotten a half-assed condolence press release that would have basically amounted to too little to late, so I appreciate that he took the time to do this. All I know, is that someone better step the fuck up, because if I have to read about another kid committing suicide, because the adults can’t get their shit together, I’m going to lose it.

  23. dee

    I think it’s important and a really positive step. I agree with all those who have pointed out that so much work needs to be done in terms of DADT, marriage, etc. But the fact is that queer kids are being bullied to the point of suicide and the reason that’s happening is that ignorant hatred of queers is in many places culturally acceptable if not required of people to ‘prove’ their straightness. So if that bullying and these suicides are going to stop then there needs to be cultural change, not just change in terms of legal entitlements.

    It seems to me (as a non-American) that having the POTUS, who people look up to and respect across the US and the world, step out and say that it’s not okay to bully queers and that we deserve to be treated with respect is an important part of bringing about that change. Obama’s words (from recognising gay Americans on election night to this video) are a massive change from the language of the Bush administration and I think that’s really important as previously it seemed that heterosexism was practically state sanctioned.

    And the reason why people support policies like DADT and unequal marriage is that they’re ignorant and homophobic. If hearts and minds are won, if we can achieve widespread recognition that queers are people too and worthy of respect and dignity, I think legal entitlements will follow much more quickly.

  24. Luckily I never drank the Obama Kool Aid to begin with, otherwise I’d be annoyed that this guy was trying to blow smoke up my ass.

    • kool-aid? before i even go where i think you might be, please explain.

    • I don’t know where you think I’m going, so I’ll explain. What I mean is, when we had tons of people all starry-eyed over this guy leading up to the election, I was not part of that crowd.

      • The kool-aid part of the comment could have been taken as a racial thing – stupid stereotypes involving black people and kool-aid, but I really didn’t think that’s what you meant. I wanted to check though. Anyways, you didn’t jump on the Obama-train. Got it. :)

  25. I commend him for speaking out and I know a lot of people want more from him…but I am not sure he can do more on his own. We need to use our votes to put people in congress to support him so he can put forth legislation that will pass!

  26. This is unrelated, but I don’t appreciate the Sarah Palin ad currently at the top of this page. I mean, I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt even though I don’t agree with her politics, and I tried to look at it from an unbiased viewpoint. I came to the same conclusion. She’s effing crazy.

  27. I appreciate the sentiment, but not the expression thereof. I mean, Jesus Christ, the It Gets Better Project was conceived as a resource for queers, by queers, with messages from queers. President Obama is a straight man. Leaving aside his record with disappointing the queer community, he has no place participating in the project. So thanks, it’s a nice gesture, but ultimately something I’d rather he hadn’t done. Show your support for the queer community elsewhere, maybe.

    • Brooke

      Well I do know of another straight person who contributed to the It Gets Better project I’m not sure if there were any others I only watched a few videos. I think it’s nice to have queers and also our allies to send messages to the people that need it most. Having straight people participate as well may show them that it’s not just the straights vs. the queers and knowing that there are people out there that actually believe in equality no matter how they identify may give them hope.

      I’m not that great at figuring out if people are sincere or not especially politicians but at least Obama took the time to do this when others wouldn’t even bother.

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