Even Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has made a video for It Gets Better. If you’re a young person who looks different and you get bullied because of it, go get the major love at the It Gets Better Project on YouTube. Start with Tim Gunn’s video and keep watching until you know all the way down in your DNA that you’re not alone.
Or, forget that and watch them all because it will annoy the hell out of the bullies to know you found your people. The purple people. The ones who don’t care how you look or whether your body and your feelings match or if you don’t know who or what you are yet or if you do. The purple people aren’t all gay, but they all know it gets better.
If you are a parent or aunt or uncle or older sibling, please somehow get that young gay person in your life over to YouTube to watch. Even encouraging them to check out the stories may make a huge difference to them, even if they don’t seem grateful. You could become the someone who made all the difference. From all the stories it’s so clear that one minute gesture, one smile, one word of support is what saves lives. Let that word come from you. Think about that: You may have the power of life and death in your hands. Choose life. Say something.
Since there are so many wonderful and eloquent expressions of support for those who get bullied because of how they look or act, I wanted to write about a group of us who don’t look different: The girly-girls who like girls. The Femmes. The Lipstick Lesbians. The Ladies.
It does make life a little easier. We can pass. We can put on the heels, the dress, the lipstick and no one thinks we look like one of Them. And we learn how to smile, and smile, and smile when they tell fag jokes, say they know how to fix a lezzie and never in a million years dream that we have become experts at laughing at the sight of our own blood.
It’s easier. But it’s not easy. And it gets better. Femme to femme, this is the way it is. School ends. Real friends come into your life. You will lose the smile when people say insulting things and you will know in your heart, whether you can act then or not, that a femme without a smile is dangerous, if she chooses to be. Eventually, when she can remove herself from the presence of the uncouth and uncivil, their universe loses the light. A femme who knows who she is takes the light with her — the light is an inside job. It’s yours and you can shine it where you want and nobody but you has the switch.
If you’re a young femme in school and you really want the purple shoes, the fabulous purse and the supermodel hair, but the gay kids give you a hard time for not looking gay enough — that gets better too. Nobody talks much about that kind of odd-girl-out experience, but it’s real. I didn’t wear femme clothes for years because I wanted to fit in with my dyke community.
Eventually you’ll realize what I did: You can buy your own purple shoes, no one gives them to you. By then you’ve met the kinds of girls and bois who love you in your purple shoes. Who appreciate who you are, in all the parts that can be labeled in fun and useful ways, like femme, girly-girl, dazzle dyke, lipstick lesbian, and so on. Best of all, they like you for the parts of you that can’t be labeled, the unique parts, the not “normal” parts. That’s when it gets way, way better. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen if you look for it, accept respect and nothing less and learn how to shine your own light.
Wear the purple shoes. Be the purple shoes. That is, if the shoes fit. (They’re a metaphor anyway.) (Except when they aren’t.)