The It Gets Better Project (IGBP) launched in September 2010 as a grassroots response to highly publicized suicides of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQQ) youth. It provided an outlet for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) adults who felt they could not help the LGBTQQ youth who needed support. The project itself became a cultural force, with 50,000 videos garnering over 50 million collective views; but the act of creating and sharing videos had an effect on the adults who participated as well.This descriptive, interview-based case study of 35 participants was designed to develop a deeper understanding of the experiences and motivations of LGBTQ adults who created and shared videos, participating in the public pedagogy of the It Gets Better Project.Findings revealed that making a video was part of a larger and iterative process of reflection and action, with collateral benefits for the video creators. They engaged in dialogue about their videos and stories on multiple online platforms and in person, and many provided direct support and resource referrals to LGBTQQ youth who contacted them via YouTube. For a number of participants, this had transformative effects on their lives in increasing praxis or generativity.An essential component of this process involved video creators identifying envisioned audiences and taking personal responsibility for filling gaps in representation. I provide highlights of cases in which individuals were "speaking to the gaps" with their videos, constructing messages to show possible futures to LGBTQQ youth on topics ranging from visibility of racial or gender identities to visibility in a profession or locale. My research shows that the construction of the It Gets Better Project allowed video creators to engage in a praxis they otherwise may not have felt empowered to do and inadvertently required them to further engage with youth and adults who contacted them via their YouTube accounts. This research constructs a history of the It Gets Better Project and its participants, and challenges us to expand our conception of what kinds of interventions are valuable and why.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. December 2014. Major: Education, Curriculum and Instruction. Advisor: Thomas Swiss. 1 computer file (PDF); iv, 213 pages.
Hurley, Sara Jean.
Public pedagogy and the experience of video creators in the it gets better project.
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