Weber State University Cultural Affairs and Peery’s Egyptian Theater presented the “It Gets Better Project” on Oct. 11, a musical presentation by members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles aimed at illustrating the social complexities that come with being a gay teenager.
Inspired by the It Gets Better video movement popularized on YouTube, the production told the story of a teenage boy from a small town who felt ostracized because of his sexuality.
The cast of the “It Gets Better Project” participated in several panels and events around the Ogden community prior to the closing performance in an effort to raise more awareness about the difficulties that come with a lack of understanding.
Sebastian Ojeda, a WSU pre-med student in attendance at the performance, heard about it through WSU’s Gay-Straight Alliance and thought it would be fun.
“I just want to be exposed to a more open culture,” Ojeda said. “Maybe some of that energy can rub off on me.”
Each member of the cast told of their own stories growing up, and how they were received by their friends and family. Tyler Houston was kicked out of his house when he was 16 years old for being gay. Drew Tablak went to a Christian university and attempted a ‘gay conversion.’ All of the cast added their stories of growing up and coming out between scenes to add to the storyline.
Brigham Young University student and Understanding Same-Gender Attraction member Jenna Hawkins, who was featured in BYU’s USGA It Gets Better video, spoke about her experience as a gay member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“Going (to BYU) taught me that I could be Mormon and gay . . . It was better than I expected. Way, way better.”
A panel allowing community members to ask questions of the performers followed the performance. Many expressed interest about getting more involved in their communities or starting their own gay-straight alliances.
“Be out. Be proud of it,” said cast member Tod Mackofsky. “Be who you are. Don’t shy away.”