At first glance, it seems impossible that any reasonable person could have a problem with the It Gets Better project. The outreach campaign, started by writer Dan Savage, is a wonderful thing; it's a series of brief, personal messages for GLBT teens who are considering suicide, assuring them that life is worth living.
Because it's on the Internet, anyone can access these messages, or upload one; because it's associated with several well-known names (actress Anne Hathaway, singer Ke$ha, and Project Runway's Tim Gunn, to name a few) it's likely to get attention and reach more teens in crisis. And in many ways, "It Gets Better" operates in the same way that decent abuse counseling does: It identifies what is happening to these children as wrong, it tells them that they don't deserve it and that it's not their fault, and it gives them permission to actually perceive themselves as victims of sustained cruelty, rather than special, faulty, unlovable freaks who bring bad treatment on themselves by virtue of existing. For people who've been abused, these aren't just compassionate platitudes, they're necessary tools for survival. The question, however, is whether these tools alone are enough.
Can telling teens who are considering suicide that "it gets better" actually help them deal with their present realities? In some cases, yes. Even the possibility of a better future can be enough to get some people through the day. And when it comes to people who are suicidal, it often seems that "it gets better" is the only possible response to what they're feeling. No one actually knows if things are going to get better; nobody can see the future. But it's important to believe that they will, because it might be the only coping mechanism for dealing with otherwise unbearable pain. If every day is terrible, and worse than the day that came before it, the only thing to do is to hold out for the "better" one. To act as if it's around the corner, somewhere, eventually.