It gets better.
That’s the message 11 Spectrum members deliver in a personal, heartfelt video aimed at lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-identified and (LGBT) teenagers. Spectrum is an employee resource group at TELUS for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and ally team members.
The six-minute video produced by team members in Dec 2010 was in response to several gay students who were bullied in school and took their lives that year. It was part of the It Gets Better Project, an international movement to show LGBTQ youth that the future is brighter after high school.
“I had a difficult time in high school,” explains Francis Guérin, a project manager in TELUS Customer Solutions in Montreal and Spectrum’s national communications prime who appears in the video and helped produce it. “I was not out, but I knew I was different. I went to a private boys’ Catholic school, and was not very good in sports and was often picked on for that. I would fake a stomach ache and skip phys-ed to avoid being called a fag or sissy.”
If one life is saved, then our efforts are invaluable
“It is horrible to see gay and lesbian teenagers who are victims of bullying feel they have no options other than suicide,” Francis adds. “Their feelings of pain and guilt are overcoming their feelings for life. That’s why I was compelled to bring Spectrum together and voice our concern and support. If one life is saved, then our efforts are invaluable.”
Cameron Zinger, a senior community investment manager at TELUS in Vancouver and Pride at Work Canada board member, echoes that sentiment: “While in high school, I was not out and spent a majority of my time trying to be someone that I thought was acceptable to mainstream society. Still, a large majority of the student body in high school made it their mission to make my life miserable. I was too afraid to stand up for myself because I had low self esteem and not enough true friends. This was happening as I was trying to come to terms with understanding new feelings and realizing I was gay.”
Hold on, push through and reach out
“I’m here to show youth that eventually it gets better and when it does it is so much better!” Cameron adds. “I want them to know to hold on, push through, reach out and understand they are not alone.”
“The video project is important to me because I feel it can and will make a difference,” says Tara Mrakic, a team manager in Client Loyalty & Retention – Small and Medium Business. “I want to demonstrate that a black lesbian adopted by white parents can chart her own course and be successful professionally. Embrace who you are, and know that you don’t need to fit into a box that society wants you in. Make your own box! We’ve come so far in 20 years since I came out, I’m happy to pay it forward at this time in my life.”
Getting the word out
The Spectrum video is posted on itgetsbetter.org, TELUS’ Facebook page and the Diversity site on Habitat, an internal landing page for all TELUS team members. Team members and supporters also promoted the video via Twitter, blogs and our partnerships with Out in Schools and Gai Écoute.