By Brian Wenke
If we’ve learned anything from the last two years, it is that we have to adapt to survive. COVID-19 has taken a toll on our world. The impact it is having on the mental health and well-being of queer youth is profound and, in many ways, immeasurable. But our community is strong and has found ways to thrive in the darkest of times.
The It Gets Better Project has experienced tremendous growth on multiple fronts over the last year. As queer youth found themselves stuck at home in potentially toxic and unforgiving environments, cut off from supportive peer networks, many turned to the knowledge-infused stories that are at the core of everything we do. From uplifting stories of LGBTQ+ Olympic hopefuls and informative narratives on the fluidity of queer language to virtual educational programming and community grantmaking, the It Gets Better Project was ready to serve queer youth when they needed us most and we will continue on this path in 2022.
Next spring, the It Gets Better Project is hosting the ILGA World Conference in Long Beach, CA. Hundreds of young queer activists from around the world will gather to discuss issues and solutions to some of the biggest problems facing LGBTQ+ youth on a global scale.
In the fall, we will convene the It Gets Better Project’s 2022/2023 cohort of youth ambassadors in Los Angeles for the first Youth Voices Summit, made possible by the generous support of American Eagle and Humble Bundle.
And, of course, the stories we have lined up for 2022 are, in a word, beyond! From sex ed and gaming to digital Pride and the world of industry, the It Gets Better Project will honor its role as a surrogate provisioner of information for LGBTQ+ young people who find themselves without a mentor or a role model to help them navigate an often confusing and delicate phase of personal development.
I’ve said it so many times I’ve lost count: growing up isn’t easy, especially when you are also trying to affirm and assert your sexual orientation or gender identity. It can be a challenging and isolating process, but no one has to do it alone. There is joy to be found on the journey, and it is our job to help light the way. In 2022, the It Gets Better Project will continue to guide LGBTQ+ youth and validate their worthiness and capacity to achieve greatness. I hope you can join us for another year of joyful impact.
We are so much better together — now let’s make it better for the next generation!
– Brian Wenke is the Executive director of the It Gets Better Project