In honour of the Vancouver Pride Parade and Festival today, which celebrates the spice which lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people contribute to our community — by means of a parade that ran literally past our front door — I’m kicking off a blog post series featuring my top seven favourite musical contributions to the It Gets Better project.
If you haven’t come across It Gets Better, then run don’t walk to the It Gets Better project site. Watch some of the over 10,000 videos contributed by people, from all walks of life, with a common theme: encouraging youth who are being bullied, and perhaps contemplating ending their lives, to believe that life gets better after high school — and that they too should stick around to see it happen.
Of the thousands of videos contributed, a few used music to craft their message of hope. And of the videos with music which I saw, I picked my top seven: seven videos which really stood out to me as having a strong message, well delivered, and making good use of the power of music. Now I don’t claim this list is definitive: it’s the opinion of one person, who couldn’t possibly have seen all the videos and so may have overlooked some fine work. My apologies to anyone I’ve missed. And it certainly isn’t timely: the project started in October 2010, and I could have posted this six months ago. Vancouver Pride has nudged me to put this series on the front burner.
Every few days, I’ll introduce another of my top seven, counting down to my number 1. I’ll tell a little about what made each video stand out for me. My hope is that these heartfelt, moving messages will get a little more visibility, and the artists who created them will get a little more love for their good work.Number 7 is a charming production from right here in Vancouver, B.C., by the Vancouver Men’s Chorus. They are my sentimental favourite because they are hometown heroes, and because at least two of their members are also active with the Vancouver Bach Choir, a large symphonic chorus in which I also sing. The heartwarming and beautiful song they perform, Everything Possible by Fred Small, is also a sentimental favourite because it was performed back in 2000 at my California church by an a capella quartet of my friends, as a demonstration of support for LGBT people in that church, and of opposition to a nasty anti-gay political campaign which was unfolding then.
This video is a great example of what makes the best It Gets Better messages so powerful. It is real people telling their personal stories, including the pain and bullying they underwent as children, but the happiness and success they found later in life. Ignore the rough spots in the writing, direction, and production; the message is authentic. The message is for the benefit of the youth, especially the LGBT youth, rather than to make the teller feel good. Collectively the videos show a wide range of people from many different places, making it more likely that for any youth in pain, there will be a message and a messenger that gets through to that teen and resonates. The Vancouver Men’s Chorus are great messengers to speak to Canadians, kids from B.C., and kids finding their love of vocal music. And weaved around the storytelling is a musical performance which is moving in its own right.
Enjoy, and see you again in a few days.
[Update 2. Aug 2011: formatting, and minor copy editing.]