Kerry McGregor and Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius, Jo-Ann Strauss and Kerry McGregor are among a group of high profile individuals who’ve taken part in the It Gets Better South Africa video campaign, set to be launched later this month.

The well-known figures worked with students from the University of Cape Town (UCT) and the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria to create the collection of videos discouraging homophobic bullying

The campaign also promotes the Triangle Project Helpline (021 712 6699), a service for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth.

The videos feature struggle hero Ahmed Kathrada, track superstar Oscar Pistorius, FreshlyGround violinist Kyla-Rose Smith, presenters Jo-Ann Strauss and Sade Giliberti, models Kerry McGregor and Shashi Naidoo (named the sexiest woman in the world in 2011 by FHM South Africa), and Mr. Gay World 2011, Francois Nel.

With videos in English and Afrikaans, It Gets Better South Africa will form part of the Cape Town Holocaust Centre’s In Whom Can I Still Trust? exhibition, which looks at homophobia in Nazi Germany and the gay rights movement in South Africa.

In the videos, the speakers share unique messages of hope and solidarity with LGBT youth.

Pistorius who competed at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, states in his video: “Just remember that you’re special. You don’t have to worry. You don’t have to change. Take a deep breath and remember it will get better.”

“The continuous violence perpetrated against homosexuals in South Africa and the regressive laws against homosexuals in other parts of Africa indicate a busy road ahead of us before we can really consider ourselves a fully matured society,” says Kathrada. “By understanding and accepting difference, we embrace the human condition. Difference in our society is what makes us a vibrant and relevant people.”

Strauss reflects: “A lot of my friends at school were gay. People tried to break down their self-confidence. Years later, we look back and we realise that all those things actually made them stronger people. I think it is really true when Kelly Clarkson sings ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’”

Naidoo adds:  “If you’re gay and being bullied because of your sexuality, remember the problem is not with you. It’s with them. Life becomes a lot easier when you learn to accept an apology you perhaps never got. And trust me, life gets a lot better.”

The videos’ producer Andrew Barry, a Master of Philosophy in Education student at UCT, has his own message to LGBT youth:  “If you’re the target of bullying on the basis of sexual orientation, please seek support. You don’t have to suffer alone. Tell someone you trust. If you’re scared and you don’t know who to reach out to, please call the Triangle Project Helpline.”

Barry hopes that more South Africans will make contributions to the It Gets Better Project.

It Gets Better South Africa forms part of the It Gets Better Project, a global anti-bullying video campaign. It was launched in the United States in 2010 by syndicated columnist and author Dan Savage, with his partner Terry Miller. They were responding to the suicides of a number of LGBT learners who were being bullied in school.

Since the first video, the It Gets Better Project has inspired more than 50 000 user-created videos that have been viewed more than 50 million times. The speakers include Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, US President Barack Obama, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, actress Anne Hathaway, musician Lady Gaga, and television personality Kim Kardashian.

It Gets Better South Africa will be launched at the Cape Town Holocaust Centre on February 20, 2013 at 7:00 pm. The videos will also be available for free online viewing on YouTube following the launch.

For more information about the In Whom Can I Still Trust? exhibition click here.

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