Let’s help it get better

Sam Maden at Fenway Park

When I began blogging my life was much different than it is now.  It was easier to find the time to write every day and circumstances lent themselves to my being able to devote a lot of time to my blog.  Over the past year, the circumstances in my life have changed to the point where the blog often comes third or fourth on the list of things I need to do instead of first or second (where it had been for quite a long time).  As a result, the posts I write that make me feel like I’ve written something really good (or even important) are few these days and over the past few months I had seriously considered just pulling the plug.  Then we have a live chat and I feel like this blog serves some kind of purpose (and brings ME joy!) and the feeling goes away.

I mention this because I received a group of emails recently that made me think that I have a lot more to offer than just live chats.  I don’t often get personal on this blog because my belief is that you don’t visit a blog called “Toeing the Rubber” to read about the personal life or beliefs of the person writing it.  But I do put a lot into this blog and sometimes I think it’s worth breaking my own rules to get an important message out.  This is one of those times and this is your fair warning.

My family is large.  I have one sister and 48 first cousins on one side and five first cousins on the other.  I’m fortunate to have many generations above and below me still living and because of this my life is full of diversity.  My family is made up of different races, different religions, different sexual orientations and different gender identities. This has been my life for as long as I’ve been on this earth and I’m proud to be a part of the giant melting pot that is my family.  Because of this, I tend to sympathize deeply with many issues that some would call liberal.  I’m not ashamed of this, nor do I hide it. I prefer to think of my views as “pro-people” more than anything else.

With that all out of the way, I’d like to get back to the emails I received.  See, there is a 12 year-0ld Red Sox fan in Nashua, New Hampshire named Sam Maden who got the idea to petition the Boston Red Sox to do one of those “It Gets Better” videos as part of a “Make a Difference” project he was required to do for school.  Sam went to change.org and set up the petition and has over 7500 signatures so far.

The World Champion San Francisco Giants became the first sports team to produce one of these videos and there is no reason other teams can’t follow their lead.  The “It Gets Better” project was created to let LGBT youth know that the torment some of them feel (and receive) won’t last forever and as adults it does get better.  Knowing the Giants joined the project inspired Sam to push forward and ask the Red Sox to join in as well…and now I’m being asked to ask all of you to sign the petition to let the Red Sox know this is something their fans support.  While it might sound political to some, Sam doesn’t see it that way.  Hi’s belief is that kids need to hear that things aren’t always going to be as bad as they are and hearing them from people they look up to is a huge step in helping them get through what they need to get through.  I believe it would help the Red Sox decide if they knew that their fans supported this cause.

I’m not trying to begin an argument with people who don’t support my views.  I’m trying to help spread the word that there are kids out there who need our help, or at the very least support, and this is a good way to send that to them.  Also, it’s nice to share a story about a child doing something like this.  Knowing there are 12 year-olds out there willing to take a stand gives me much hope for our future.

The press release that prompted my writing this entry:

June 2, 2011
Contact: Brian Purchia, Director of Communications, brian@change.org 202-253-4330

12-year-old Red Sox fan Sam Maden and ten other baseball fans start campaigns on Change.org urging their teams to follow the San Francisco Giants lead and produce videos supporting youth struggling with sexual orientation and gender identity

WASHINGTON, DC – Eleven baseball teams, including the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Texas Rangers, and Chicago Cubs, are being petitioned by their fans to produce “It Gets Better” videos and take a public stand against anti-gay bullying and homophobia in sports, following the lead of the San Francisco Giants. On Wednesday, the World Series champions became the first team in professional sports to release an “It Gets Better” video.

You can view the full list of petitions featuring more than 30 sports teams — all started by fans on Change.org’s open platform here:


Current baseball teams being petitioned by fans include the Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, New York Mets, Seattle Mariners, St. Louis Cardinals, Texas Rangers, and Toronto Blue Jays.

Lifelong Giants fan Sean Chapin encouraged the World Series champions to make an “It Gets Better” video by starting an online petition on Change.org, the world’s fastest-growing platform for social change, following recent controversial incidents involving baseball coach Roger McDowell and basketball star Kobe Bryant. More than 6,000 Giants fans signed Chapin’s petition.

The Giants video features four current players (Matt Cain, Sergio Romo, Andres Torres and Barry Zito) and Giants hitting coach Hensley Muelens. The video delivers the “It Gets Better” message in English, Spanish and Japanese. The video can be viewed at:

“This is a watershed moment for baseball and for LGBT youth,” said Chapin. “By joining the ‘It Gets Better’ campaign, the Giants are showing us why they are World Champions, both on an off the field. If every pro sports team joined the Giants in taking a stand against homophobia and anti-gay bullying by making these videos, it would have a tremendous impact on the lives of millions of kids and their families. It would also contribute to a safer playing environment for gay athletes, from high school to professional sports.”

Inspired by news that the Giants had responded to a fan’s petition on Change.org, 12-year-old Sam Maden came up with an idea to ask his favorite team on the planet – the Red Sox – to step up to the plate. Sam decided to honor his late uncle by starting a petition asking the Red Sox to make an “It Gets Better” video as well. More than 7,000 people — mostly Red Sox fans — have signed Sam’s petition on Change.org

Currently there are no openly gay athletes playing in any of the four major pro sports, as the New York Times recently highlighted in an article about New York Rangers hockey player Sean Avery announcing his support for marriage equality in New York state.

More than 10,000 “It Gets Better” videos have been produced since syndicated columnist Dan Savage and his partner Terry Miller launched the project in September 2010, in response to an epidemic of teen suicides by gay kids and kids perceived to be gay. Through “It Gets Better” videos, President Barack Obama, Secretary Hillary Clinton, and corporations like Apple, Google, Microsoft, Pixar and other major organizations and leaders have provided hope to kids struggling with sexual orientation and gender identity.

View Sean Chapin’s Giants petition and a video he produced supporting the petition:

View Sam Maden’s Red Sox petition and current signature totals:

View the full list of sports teams with Change.org petitions here:

Change.org is the world’s fastest-growing platform for social change — growing by more than 300,000 new members a month, and empowering millions of people to start, join, and win campaigns for social change in their community, city and country.

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