It Gets Better – Yale School of Drama/Yale Repertory Theatre


Hi. I’m Stephen Padla. My name is Martha Jane Kaufman My name is Daniel. My name is Mary. I’m Ethan. I’m from Washington DC. I’m Laura. Hi. My name is Ben Horner. My name is Ruth. My name is Kathleen Chalfant. My name is Justin Taylor. Hi. I’m Ellen. I’m an actor. And I played the original
angel in Angels in America. Hi. My name is Jennifer Kiger. Hi. My name is Kay, and this
is Mary Wynter and Justin. I’m Jack, and I am from Chicago. Hi. My name is Mara. Hi. My name is Ryan Davis. Someone asked me the other
day if a project like this would have helped
me when I was a kid. I can’t even imagine something
like this when I was a kid. The internet didn’t
exist in 1988 when I was in seventh grade
and I was designated the class faggot. Every day before school,
recess, after school– a Catholic school–
faggot, faggot, faggot. I was picked on a lot. And it wasn’t because
I was gay, because I didn’t know I was
gay until much later, but mostly because
I was different, or maybe because I was smart. I never asked. It was just a very lonely time. I’m the youngest of seven kids. Four of us are gay. When I was in high school
and junior high school, four of my brothers tried to
kill themselves repeatedly. I grew up thinking that
suicide was just something that you did if you had a
bad day, if you got beat up, or if you were gay. I don’t know what
it’s like to come out, because I’m a straight
person, and so I have not had to do that. But I know what it’s
like to be bullied. Because when I was 12 years
old, my whole sixth grade class stared the Hate Ellen club. And every day, they’d do
something different to me. Sometimes, they
tortured me physically, and sometimes, they just made
fun of me in different ways. I’m queer, and I also grew
up with lesbian parents. That was something that I
was very closeted about when I was younger. And I didn’t want
to tell anyone. I was afraid to have
people over to my house, because I thought
they would find out, and they would tell
people at school. It made me sick,
physically sick. I missed 56 and 1/2 days
of school that year. And kids thought it was really
funny, when I did go to school, to ask me if I had
AIDS like Ryan White. I was 12 years old. I never knew quite why I was
being victimized this was. Years later, I met
the girl at a party, the girl who started the club. And she came up to
me and she said, I’ve thought of you every
single day of my life, because I know
what I did to you. And she said, you had
something that I wanted. And I didn’t know what
to do about the fact that you had something. You were special. And the only thing I could
do was to try to destroy it. I know that when I was growing
up, I felt really alone– not just being gay,
but also, the gay that was out there that I was
seeing on TV wasn’t who I was or who I wanted to be. And I didn’t
understand until later that it’s a big, old world, and
it’s not just Will and Grace. In high school, I definitely
had moments of feeling alone and confused and scared. And I’m here to tell
you that now I’m happy. I love myself. I love my friends. And I’m happy that I’m
out and proud and gay. I’m 34 now. Yes, absolutely, it gets better. But for me, better isn’t
good enough anymore. This is terrorism,
and it must end. Cruelty might be human,
and it might even be part of our culture,
but it is not acceptable. I think that the most
difficult and most important thing that we can do as human
beings is be true to ourselves while remaining
compassionate towards people that are different from us. You don’t have to be afraid. Don’t be afraid of
anything in yourself. And don’t– don’t let
anyone else make you afraid. Those differences will
be celebrated by others as unique and beautiful. I didn’t even begin to discover
who I was, what I wanted to do, until after that very–
sometimes difficult time. You are surrounded by people
who love you and admire so. So that if one of those idiots
dares to try to hurt you, don’t give them any power. Go immediately to one of that
army of people who loves you. I know that things
will get better for you if they are bad now. It is somehow some beautiful
end result of how life works. If anyone had said to me in the
’70s when I was in high school that I would be married to a
woman living in Connecticut and that we would have
two wonderful children, I would have found
that hard to believe. But I am here to tell you
that I have all of that. And it’s a great life. And it not only gets
better, it gets great. I have a son. He’s 17. He’s also gay. I’m very proud of him. He’s doing what he can
to make this place better for you, for me, for all of us. If you really do discover
that you have that in you, that you’re the one
you’re waiting for, it does get better. Be an example, not a statistic. Love. Love who you love. Laugh. Find a way to laugh. Live. Every day, live. Because it will
get better for you, and it can be better than
better for all of us. Hi. I’m James Bundy, Dean of
the Yale School of Drama and Artistic Director of
Yale Repertory Theatre. And I’m Vicki Nolan. And I’m the Deputy Dean of
the Yale School of Drama and the Managing Director of
the Yale Repertory Theatre. I’m Joan Channick,
the Associate Dean of the Yale School of Drama. We work in a community
of 200 students from all over the United
States and all over the world and of more than 150
faculty members, staff members, and guest artists. And we’re here to tell
you, it gets better. It does get better. It does get better. It gets better. It gets better. It gets better.

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