December 2, 2010
By: Joe Siegel/TRT Reporter
LGBT students and faculty at Boston University are featured in a new video series, “Becoming Myself.” The participants aim to give hope to students who may be struggling with their sexual orientation. The message they share is that no matter how tough things get, life does get better.
Inspired by columnist Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” video series, BU students Leslie Friday and Robin Berghaus wanted to do something to help create a friendlier climate for LGBT students on their campus.
“We’d been discussing at our morning news meetings how to address in our online publication, BU Today, the tragic news about gay teens who committed suicide in recent weeks,” explained Friday. “I was listening to NPR on the way home one night and heard Dan Savage interviewed about his “It Gets Better” Project. That’s when I had the idea we could do something similar, but plugging into the LGBT community here-students, faculty and staff.”
Friday and Berghaus contacted Spectrum, BU’s LGBT group, which gathered a list of students interested in participating.
“We contacted the Dean of Students Office, Residence Life, and asked students and colleagues to spread the word,” said Berghaus.
Zac Brokenrope, a student at BU, shared his story of growing up gay in a small town in Nebraska. Brokenrope was shunned by classmates when he revealed his sexuality. He was also beaten up and harrassed. One day he attempted suicide.
Brokenrope has received a favorable response from the students at BU.
“I’ve received a huge amount of support from nearly all corners of the BU community, including the Dean of the School of Education,” Brokenrope said.
“The morning the video came online, I started getting all these phone calls from friends who just wanted to talk to me about it. One kid, who I don’t even know, stopped me on the street and gave me a hug and then just walked away. In a weird way, it’s incredibly liberating. It’s like I’m coming out all over again, and this time I have the support I never had before.”
Liz Douglass, who serves as a Chapel Associate for LGBTQ students at BU, also shared her story.
“People were very grateful for my willingness to share my story and my work to make Marsh Chapel at BU more known as an open and safe space for LGBTQ students,” Douglass noted.
Douglass believes the videos will have a positive effect: “It’s important for students to not only hear from peers, but also LGBTQ staff and faculty knowing there are LGBTQ people in authority and positions of power can bring feelings of reassurance and lessen anxiety. It also lets students know there are people to turn to if they need someone to talk to they can trust.”
“A lot of my friends came up to me and said that my story was very touching and they were impressed that I am comfortable enough with myself to do the video,” said student Ted Anton. “I feel that anyone who does a video for the ‘It Gets Better’ project will help someone struggling with their own issues and influence their decision to do something harmful to themselves. I feel that any effort to help with the LGBT youth suicides is worth it.”
“I hope the people who see this video/story package and may be struggling let the message sink in that life does get better,” added Friday. “No matter how dire the circumstances may seem at the time, life is worth living beyond the bumpy parts of the road. I think that message resonates with not just the gay community, but with everyone here at BU and beyond.”
All of the videos can be seen on BU’s video network BUniverse: