What do President Barack Obama, Ellen DeGeneres, Tim Gunn, and Dr. Jamie Gayle have in common? They all support the “It Gets Better” Project, a campaign to help members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer/questioning, and intersexed (LGBTQI) community who are being bullied simply for being themselves. For this reason, Dr. Jamie Gayle, founder and director of IntraSpectrum Counseling, a Chicago-based group practice that proudly serves this community, promotes the development of the “It Gets Better” Project’s goals.
In September 2010, after a surge of suicides of LGBT youth who were being bullied because of their sexual orientations and gender identities, writer Dan Savage and his partner, Terry Miller, created a YouTube Video to provide hope for other LGBT youth facing harassment. This video was the beginning of the campaign. Now, over 50, 000 people have added their stories and words of hope to their website, www.itgetsbetter.org. Overall, their mission is to help younger LGBT people to realize that even if they are living in a homophobic environment, many people support them and want to help them to find acceptance and love.
In addition to adding videos, site viewers are able to join over half a million others and take the “It Gets Better” Pledge. It reads: “Everyone deserves to be respected for who they are. I pledge to spread this message to my friends, family and neighbors. I’ll speak up against hate and intolerance whenever I see it, at school and at work. I’ll provide hope for lesbian, gay, bi, transgender and other bullied teens by letting them know that ‘It Gets Better.’”
This pledge is consistent with some of the therapeutic goals of IntraSpectrum counselors. By accepting and validating others as they are, respecting diverse identities, educating wider society about homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia, and speaking out against intolerance, IntraSpectrum’s therapists actively create a safe environment for the LGBTQI community. While the counselors at IntraSpectrum applaud the triumphs of this project, they also realize that these inspiring messages may need to be supplemented with individualized attention. IntraSpectrum Counseling offers a range of therapeutic services for Chicago’s LGBTQI community, including but not limited to individual gay and lesbian counseling, gender identity counseling, same-sex couples counseling, and group counseling specifically tailored to the unique needs of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and intersexed clients.