A message to the San Francisco 49ers from Sean Chapin, who asked the San Francisco Giants to join the It Gets Better Project and started a historic movement in Major League Baseball over this past summer:
Dear San Francisco 49ers,
I’ve been a big fan ever since I was born in San Francisco. Growing up in the 1980’s was nothing short of awesome, because you were THE team -- the dynasty of the National Football League. I still remember how it started back in 1981, when on 4th down in the 4th quarter against the Dallas Cowboys, Joe Montana took the ball, ran to the sidelines and threw the ball into the end zone. It was miraculously caught by Dwight Clark in what’s become known as “the catch” that helped set up the 49ers’ first Super Bowl victory.
My favorite moment in 49ers history happened eight years later. The 49ers were playing against the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII, and they were down by a score of 16 to 13 with two minutes left in the game. The 49ers offense marched down the field with amazing play after fantastic play. Then with 10 yards left to go, Joe Montana connected with John Taylor to score the go ahead touchdown and secured the 49er’s third of five Super Bowl victories. In those two minutes, I learned that when faced with pressure cooker situations, as long as you stay true to your heart, you can do just about anything. So I am reaching out to you, because my community is faced with a pressure cooker situation, and we need your help.
My name is Sean Chapin, and I am not only a fan of your team, but I’m also a fan of the San Francisco Giants. Earlier this year, some famous sports figures uttered homophobic slurs. I was concerned that this homophobia might trickle down to our schools and inspire kids to use homophobic slurs against other kids. So I asked the San Francisco Giants to make an “It Gets Better” video to help confront homophobia. They agreed and made a fantastic video. Then seven other baseball teams followed the Giants' lead and made videos for the It Gets Better Project. Today, it is amazing to say that one-fourth of all of Major League Baseball teams have reached out to LGBT youth to let them know that no matter how rough they may have it in high school, it is going to get better for them. In the meantime their favorite team will stand up against bullying. This has been absolutely wonderful for our kids to hear. Unfortunately, we still have so much more work to do.
Jamey Rodemeyer was a 14-year-old kid from Buffalo, New York. He was gay and made an “It Gets Better” video this past summer. He looked up to great role-models like Lady Gaga. But he also faced a horrendous amount of bullying -- even during summer vacation through cyber-bullying. It was ultimately too much for him to handle, so he took his life last month. His parents recently appeared on a national morning show to tell the country the bullies who bullied Jamey to death chanted “you’re better off dead” and “we’re glad you’re dead” after Jamey died -- at his school’s homecoming dance!
If a group of people are vocally celebrating the death of another person at a school event, and it takes a dead child’s parents to appear on a national television to raise awareness, it means there is still a lot of work ahead of us to help make things better for our youth.
That’s why I am asking you to make an "It Gets Better" video, to reach out to teenagers such as Jamey to let them know their lives will get much better as they get through their high school years.
The 49ers can do what the Giants did earlier this year in their own league. The 49ers can start a movement within the National Football League. They can inspire other football teams like the Buffalo Bills in Jamey’s home town to reach out to their local communities. Because, if you are known for “the catch” that started a dynasty, then you can make “the video” for the It Gets Better Project.
I bet your video will be caught by countless LGBT teenagers around the Bay Area and across the country. It will be historic and awesome!
Please consider joining the It Gets Better Project by making a video to help our LGBT youth.
I am writing to ask you to make an "It Gets Better" video to let our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth know that their lives will get much better as they get older. Professional sports can have a huge impact on our youth. Already the “It Gets Better” videos produced by Major League Baseball teams (led by your hometown team and World Champion Giants) have helped save many lives. Yet there is still a lot of work to do. Sadly, LGBT teen suicides continue to persist in our country.
One teenager we recently lost to suicide was Jamey Rodemeyer, a 14-year-old from Buffalo, New York. The homophobia that he faced before he ended his life was so rough, that it continued even after his death. His bullies chanted “you’re better off dead” and “we’re glad you’re dead” at Jamey’s school homecoming dance. Jamey's sister was there to hear it. If something as dire as this is happening, then it illustrates just how much work there is ahead of us if we want to make it better for kids like Jamey while they’re in school. That’s why I am reaching out to you.
So many people in the Bay Area look up to the 49ers as outstanding football players and heroes. If your team makes a video for the It Gets Better Project, I believe that countless LGBT teenagers around the Bay Area and across the country would catch your message. I also believe that you could generate the kind of historic movement in the National Football League that we witnessed in baseball over the summer.
Please consider making a video to stand up to this awful bullying and to tell our LGBT youth that it will get better for them.