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“God loves you and it gets better”

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The ‘It Gets Better Project’ (IGBP) is an online anti-homophobic bullying initiative directed at lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth. To date, 50,000 user-generated IGBP videos have attracted over 50 million views. In this critical discourse analysis of IGBP videos in the “Faith” category, I note how the projected ideologies therein overlap with and depart from conservative Christian rhetoric in surprising ways. I ask what gets better, for whom, and how that might happen. I then compare messages uploaded by laypeople and spokespeople of religious institutions. I argue that neoliberal assumptions are frequently evident in laypeople’s emphases on individualism, economic success, urban spaces and heteronormative conceptions of time. Spokespeople, conversely, tend to emphasize community-based opposition to homophobia in the here and now. This ideological struggle highlights barriers to “it getting better” in the present but also creates space for politics of redistribution and an unexpected queering of societal norms.
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Keywords: bullying; deixis; faith; homophobia; internet; neoliberalism; youth

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2014

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