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Greater NW Pride: The UMC It Gets Better Campaign


The UMC "It Gets Better" Campaign

In 2010, the Seattle columnist Dan Savage and his partner, Terry Miller, started the “It Gets Better” campaign, which would soon become a worldwide phenomenon, focused initially on supporting LGBTQ young people. There is no doubt that there were many young people who were LGBTQ who were committing suicide, as well as being bullied because they were gay or because their peers perceived they were gay. So, adults who were out and open LGBTQ people began to send the message on various social media websites, that “It gets better,” in terms of life gets better when one lives open, out, and proud, in order to prevent the suicide of more young LGBTQ people and stop the bullying. Within a short time, through a strategic social media blitz, the “It Gets Better” campaign blanketed the world, with over 60,000 people sharing their It Gets Better Story, and over 600,000 people having pledged their support to the It Gets Better campaign, saturating YouTube and other social media platforms, e.g., Twitter and Instagram.
It is 2018. In reflecting upon the power and the success of the secular "It Gets Better" campaign, and having heard and seen the many stories of both closeted and open LGBTQ UMC clergy, lay leaders, and laity at Reconciling Convocation and in the local UMC churches in the OR-ID Conference at Table Talk and Annual Conference opportunities, maybe it is time to start a UMC "It Gets Better” campaign in the OR-ID UMC Conference, as an example for the worldwide UMC. There is no doubt that there are LGBTQ young people, let alone older LGBTQ people, including clergy, who have experienced being bullied in one’s family, school, community, or church. Sadly, there are also told and untold stories of suicide of LGBTQ people across the Protestant denominations, including UMC and Presbyterian Church (USA), who did not feel that they were welcome to be open, out, and safe in their local congregations, let alone in their denomination. What we do know is that such shunning is antithetical to the Gospel. 
So, consider the project, UMC "It Gets Better"! It would involve people telling their stories on platforms such as this blog or creating one’s own blog, creating Youtube clips, Instagram accounts, and Twitter accounts, in which out and open LGBTQ clergy, lay leaders, and laity tell their story of growing up or being LGBTQ , and letting those who are still in their respective closets know: It gets better once one is out.  Regardless of what happens after February 2019, the world around us is getting better in regard to people feeling free to be out and LGBTQ, telling our God given stories, and living our lives, out and proud, wherever we may worship God.    


Brett Webb-Mitchell
Rev. Dr. Brett Webb-Mitchell is an openly gay Presbyterian pastor in the Portland area serving as the part-time LGBTQ+ advocacy coordinator for The Oregon-Idaho Conference of the UMC. He can be reached at brett@umoi.org. Become a subscriber to the Greater NW Pride blog to get Greater NW Pride in your email box!