Sunday, December 11, 2011

Time After Time, Lauper Offers Resources for Queer Teens

With a tip of her hat towards Dan Savage's It Gets Better project, songwriter and LGBT activist Cyndi Lauper has created a similar project called the Give a Damn campaign. The artist sought a means to both raise awareness about issues concerning gay teens and educate viewers of all sexualities on how to help.

The Give a Damn Campaign was founded in April 2010. The website contains statistics, articles, and information on the biggest problems LGBT teens face, like homelessness, abandonment, and bullying. "Imagine sending your child off to school everyday, knowing once they're there, they'll be called names, get threatened and shoved, even kicked or punched," the website asks of straight/non-questioning viewers. "Imagine if your brother or sister, or your nephew, niece, grandson or granddaughter told their teachers about the bullying - and their teachers didn't do a damn thing about it." Unlike other teen issue webpages, the Give A Damn site takes the conversation a step farther - it speaks widely to both struggling youth and unknowing citizens and provides a wealth of information for anyone interested in LGBT topics. It provides a means to help, though conversation starters, places to volunteer, and ways to donate.

Perhaps the most helpful link for visiting teens, however, is the "Personal Stories" section of each page. Young adults from every background have submitted their battles with parents, teachers, peers, and society. On the "Youth Homelessness" tab, a boy named Ryan describes the ongoing fight with his family. Ryan's parents verbally and emotionally abused him, related his existence to that of a child with Down Syndrome, and forced him into a conversion therapy organization called the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality to be "cured." On the campaign's site, Ryan pleads with viewers: "The lives of your friends, that kid down the street, your brother, sister, mom, dad, aunt, uncle or 6th cousin twice removed, count on you, so please, join all of us, and Give a Damn."

In a similar fashion to It Gets Better, Lauper extends the project into a Youtube channel where celebrities and fellow activists can upload clips about supporting youth who are enduring hate crimes, unfriendly faces, and a sense of loss. "It is time that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is afforded to everyone equally," the channel states. "Get Informed. Get Involved. Give a Damn!"

To donate to Give a Damn, please click here.

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