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It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living Paperback – January 25, 2012

4.7 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Handpicked and heartfelt essays from contributors famous and obscure, gay and straight." — Chicago Sun-Times

"A masterstroke . . . revolutionary." — Armistead Maupin, author of Tales of the City

About the Author

Dan Savage is the editorial director of Seattle's weekly newspaper, The Stranger. Terry Miller is an event promoter, musician, and DJ. They were married in Canada and live in Seattle with their son, DJ.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (January 25, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452297613
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452297616
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #297,877 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dan Savage is a writer, activist, and TV personality best known for his political and social commentary, as well as his honest approach to sex, love and relationships.

Savage is the author of: American Savage: Insights, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love, and Politics; The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage and My Family; Skipping Towards Gomorrah: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Pursuit of Happiness in America (Lambda Literary Award for Nonfiction); The Kid: What Happened When My Boyfriend and I Decided to Get Pregnant (PEN West Award for Creative Nonfiction); and Savage Love. He co-authored How to be a Person. The Kid was adapted into an Off-Broadway play and has recently been optioned for film.

Savage is the Editorial Director of The Stranger, Seattle's weekly alternative newspaper, and his writing has appeared in widely in publications including The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, GQ, Rolling Stone, The Onion, and Salon.com. Savage is also a contributor to Ira Glass's This American Life. "Savage Love" is syndicated in newspapers and websites throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia.

In 2010, Savage and his husband, Terry Miller, launched a YouTube video meant to offer hope to bullied LGBTQ youth. The It Gets Better Project has become a global movement, inspiring more than 50,000 videos. Savage and Miller co-edited the It Gets Better book, published in March 2011. In 2012, the It Gets Better Project received the Governors Award at the Creative Arts Emmys.

Savage grew up in Chicago and now lives in Seattle, Washington with his husband and their son, DJ.

Photos by LaRae Lobdell.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
On September 22, 2010, in response to publicized incidents of bullying and suicides, author Dan Savage and his husband, Terry Miller, uploaded a video to YouTube on "It Get's Better," a plea to teens and youth to stay alive. They hoped to get 100 other videos in this collection.

Within 24 hours, someone uploaded a second video. In 3 days, there were several hundred videos. At the end of the week, there were 1,000. In week 4, the White House called with a request to add a video from President Obama. There are now more than 10,000 videos in the It Get's Better collection.

About 1% of these were selected and transcribed and combined with expanded and original essays to present these messages in written form. The themes of the essays are why gay, bi, questioning, outsider, bullied, or any other youth should not kill themselves or be self destructive, since their lives will and do get better. The book includes resources and suggestions, and should be read by teachers, librarians, youth workers, parents, and of course, youth.

The book features contributions by President Obama, David Sedaris, Kate Clinton, Murray Hill, Bishop Gene Robinson, Ellen Degeneres, Tim Gunn, UK PM David Cameron, Suze Orman, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Chaz Bono, Bruce Ortiz, PereZ Hilton, Alex Orue and many more.

There is something for nearly everyone: Jennifer Finney Boylan, a transgender woman who teaches at Colby, writes about a post-college incident where she drove to the literal edge of North America to end her life from a cliff (but didn't); Gregory MaGuire, the author of "Wicked" writes an essay; while Kevin Yee, an actor in the musical, "Wicked," also writes one. It is one of the funniest essays in the book.
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Format: Hardcover
The secret weapon in this collection of essays is this: gorgeous moments of aching truth that pierce the sometimes distracting hype associated with the "It Gets Better" project and deliver an emotional wallop.

It's an earnest, uneven, truly inspirational collection, with enough of those heart-in-your-throat moments to keep you reading.

Interestingly, the most famous names in the book have the least impact. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Al Franken, Suze Orman and even Ellen Degeneres are all here, but their pieces feel about as passionate as thumbing through their cue cards. Maybe fame leads to caution.

You'll have to settle for celebrity twice-removed to tap a wellspring of real emotion. Randy Roberts Potts is the grandson of the late, ultra-homophobic televangelist Oral Roberts, and Randy shares a family secret more salacious than his own homosexuality: his uncle, Ronald David Roberts, was also gay, and he was so despondent after coming out to his famous father that he killed himself with a gunshot to his heart.

Randy's own story is filled with religious and social trials, but there is victory. "I had to fight hard for it, but it finally happened," he writes, "the freedom to just be myself." And then he can't resist this: "My grandfather was famous for telling people, `Something good is going to happen to you!' And, it's strange to admit it, but he was right."

I still have the voice of lesbian Gabrielle Rivera ringing in my ears. Gabrielle appears on page 45 and not a moment too soon, bursting with truth and anger and passion. "It kind of doesn't get better," she proclaims. "...but what happens is this: You get stronger. You learn how to love yourself. You learn that other people are just crazy and caught up in their own crap.
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Format: Audio CD
This is a review of the audiobook, and primarily a warning that the reading of this work is slow in speed and pedantic in tone, in my opinion. This is especially noticeable for the portions read by Paul Michael Garcia and these tended to be less interesting, I think, than if I had simply read the book. Certainly, the original essays were passionate, but many readings here are lacking even a spark of emotion.
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Format: Hardcover
but I'm also a big sack of weepy like Dan Savage says he is.

I read the excerpts by Dan and Terry and they really moved me and I read of few of the entries as well. I left with a few tears and it really opened my eyes to bullying experienced by LGBT, and bullying in general.

My personal experience: I grew up in the 90's. I was never bullied (I look back and wonder why considering the geek I was) and I thought bullying was just boy humor that was exaggerated out on Saved By the Bell and other comedic shows. I look back and wonder why I never saw much bullying happening. Actually, now that I think really hard about it, maybe it was happening, but I didn't realize it was bullying. People were made fun of - but for really dumb things, like their clothes, or just random accusations about people. I guess I just thought they were dumb comments, but didn't realize it might have affected people so much. There was one suicide and I remember people were sad about it. What struck me the most was I loved gay people. I don't know how I even came to know what gay was, but I had a couple friends who I was pretty close with and I was naive (again) to their sexual orientation. When they told me, I thought it made them cooler. Little did I know what they were going through. Obviously, I feel that if they couldn't even talk to me, then it's great that others can reach out to them first to know that there are safe places they can go to and talk about it.

The book itself is moving. The recent interview with Dan and Terry at Google adds more depth and realism to their excerpts because it adds the emotion of their voice and heart.
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