The repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is official now, so it’s a good time to recall this recent The Daily Show video aimed at Senator John McCain. McCain has a track record of changing the basis for his opposition to repealing DADT. And as it became clear that repeal was imminent, Jon Stewart and team wanted him to know that It gets worse, referring to McCain’s legacy in the wake of defending a policy that has restricted the rights of gays in the U.S. military.
Comedy enlisted to makes a point about LGBT civil rights has given us a lot of great funny in recent years, like Prop 8 the Musical and Stephen Colbert’s parody of the pro-Prop 8 Gathering Storm ad. But as is often the case there are serious issues at the root of the laughter. The Daily Show sketch references two awareness campaigns and it’s worth taking a moment to mention them both.
The ad referred to in the Daily Show piece, in which the Senator’s wife Cindy McCain appears, is from The NOH8 Campaign, which begain in late 2008 in response to California’s Proposition 8 which banned gay marriage…
The NOH8 Campaign is a photographic silent protest created by celebrity photographer Adam Bouska and partner Jeff Parshley in direct response to the passage of Proposition 8. Photos feature subjects with duct tape over their mouths, symbolizing their voices being silenced by Prop 8 and similar legislation around the world, with “NOH8” painted on one cheek in protest.
This particular ad was in response to suicides by several young gay men which gained national attention in the fall of this year. All those deaths were linked to bullying by peers, and the ad aims to raise awareness of the unfortunately rampant problem of LBGT kids being harassed in school. It features celebrities from Gene Simmons of KISS to that guy from Dancing with the Stars sending the message that bullying is wrong and that we can all do something to help.
The Daily Show’s “It Gets Worse” phrase is a play on the It Gets Better Project:
In September 2010, syndicated columnist and author Dan Savage created a YouTube video with his partner Terry to inspire hope for young people facing harassment. In response to a number of students taking their own lives after being bullied in school, they wanted to create a personal way for supporters everywhere to tell LGBT youth that, yes, it does indeed get better.
Now there are well over 1000 videos from all over the world online with personal stories about how “It Gets Better”. These include celebrity testimonials as well as those uploaded by everyday people.
Recently several White House staffers added their own “It Gets Better” video (below), following on the heels of videos by President Obama and Vice President Biden coming out of the closet. NOT REALLY! But they did talk directly to gay youth to encourage them to stay strong against the ridicule they may be experiencing.
You can watch more videos on the project’s website. Both of these campaigns support The Trevor Project which has advocacy/educational programs for LGBT youth and a a 24/7 Lifeline for kids who need help.