Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

FROM Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu to US actress Anne Hathaway, they’re sending a message of hope and solidarity to gay teenagers across South Africa.

It is part of the global internet-based video campaign, It Gets Better Project, the local arm of which was launched in Cape Town this week.

The campaign focuses on sexual minorities who experience discrimination in secondary schools and beyond, with the worldwide initiative assisting suicidal teenagers who are bullied because of their sexual preference.

The message is clear: “it gets better”.

The local initiative was started at UCT when a small group of staff and students teamed up with civil society organisations and high-profile individuals to document 18 relevant messages of hope.

Other than Tutu, the wide range of individuals and organisations who are involved include US President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Hathaway, former US Idol runner-up Adam Lambert, along with Facebook and Google.

In his message, Tutu urged youngsters who experienced discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation to seek support from “people and organisations throughout this wonderful land”.

“We should support one another as an act of true ubuntu,” he said.

Fenton-Wells, who is also a Western Province player, encouraged sexual minorities who would like to play rugby to approach the UCT Rugby Club. “You are more than welcome,” he said.

The campaign was founded in California last year by Dan Savage and his husband, Terry Miller.

They inspired Master’s student of philosophy in education Andrew Barry to start the campaign in Cape Town.

“This is a very powerful campaign. I want sexual minorities who experience discrimination to know that there are individuals and organisations in Cape Town that will support them,” Barry said, adding that he hoped other institutions would also get on board.

The project has grown rapidly over the past year. In its first week, more than 200 videos were uploaded, and the following week the project’s YouTube channel reached the 650 video limit.

The project now has its own website, which includes messages from 22 000 people around the world.

For more information, visit the It Gets Better website, or phone 076 538 9174.