The Messenger: Dan Savage
Who he is:
A self-described "potty-mouthed sex-advice columnist" (the nationally syndicated Savage Love) turned crusader against gay bullying.
His Aha! Moment:
When he read about the suicide of 15-year-old Billy Lucas of Indiana last year, Savage started "stewing" over ways to reassure gay teens that acceptance awaits beyond the agonies of high school. "When I came out in the early '80s to my Catholic parents, I was basically telling them I'd never marry or have children, and that I'd live a really marginal life. Since then everything has changed." A comment on his blog ("I wish I could have told Billy Lucas that it gets better") sparked a plan.
Delivering the message directly to struggling teens that the future is worth sticking around for. Savage asked his readers to upload videos of support, hoping for 100 submissions; itgetsbetter.org now boasts more than 25,000 tear-jerking testimonials and encouraging messages from the likes of President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Suze Orman, Stephen Colbert, Kim Kardashian, and thousands more supporters and "lesbian dairy farmers and doctors and regular people who are happy about their lives," he says. Savage's video with his husband, Terry Miller, has been viewed more than a million times. In March they published a book, It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living.
"I'm not a gay Gandhi," says Savage with a laugh. "But I hope I've shown that the Internet is a powerful tool. You can use it for porn, or you can use it for good." —Meredith Bryan