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Friday, June 10, 2011

OUTscene America: (INTER-view) Adrian Ryan 's Exclusive with "It Gets Better" Co-Creator, Terry Miller!

Photo/Kevin Kauer
by Adrian Ryan
OUTscene Special

Terry Miller is one of the most influential gay men in America—whether you recognize his name or not.

If you do, you probably know Terry as the long-silent, long-term HICBIA (Husband in Canada, Boyfriend in America) of Dan Savage, the famous Sex Advice columnist/cum powerhouse politico who has been recently described, quite aptly, as “Captain Gay.”

But the astonishing success of the It Get’s Better Project—which basically began with a video of Terry recounting his own High School horrors— has thrust Terry firmly into the spotlight…and the pages of gay history. Terry and Dan have not only set new standards of tolerance for gay and lesbian youth with the It Gets Better Project, they have incited a gay-rights revolution to perhaps rival the social effects of Stonewall –the full force of which will not be felt for years. Below, Terry and I discuss the genesis of It Gets Better Project, returning to his High School for the first time, and life on the road with Dan.

Adrian: The It Get’s Better Project begins, basically, with your own wretched, terrible High School adventures in being bullied. You were recently invited back to said High School. What was it like?

Terry: It was scary. I hadn’t been back in 20 years, and wondered if the same awful
administrators would still be working there. Of course they aren’t. The school has a great administration that is very supportive of the GSA.

A: How did it feel returning? Triumphant? Oogey? Did it change your feelings about the place?
T: Yes, I went thinking I would hate it, and was nervous in the day leading up to it. But in the end I was very gratified by how many people showed up to support the GSA and to hear us speak. 

A: Do you feel like you got a big healthy helping of closure? 
T: Yes. 

A: You’ve been on a pretty substantial book tour for weeks now… 
T: New York back to LA all across the country, in most media centers. It’s pretty much over now, though we are heading to NYC to be the Grand Marshalls of the Pride Parade there. I thought that meant just riding in the parade, but it turns out there’s a lot of other things we need to do, including cocktails with the mayor and a ton of little parties.

Google was fun. We did that recently and it was a hoot! That place is crazy. There’s a video of it where you can see me looking “adoringly” at Dan. 

The worst thing about tours is signings that are totally disorganized. If a signing isn’t well run it can feel like a total clusterfuck and feels like we’re being barraged. One city was a little like that: sit down at a table without pens, no line is formed, and 400 people walking straight at you with cameras and books to sign, and you have nothing to sign with and you just feel like your not pleasing anyone. It also made that signing take hours! 

A: Dan has been in the light that is lime for OH so many years. And now…BAM! You too. How are y’all dealing?
T: I guess it’s fine. It’s funny he still does all the talking so I just stand there looking at him “adoringly”. Mostly just thinking, “Don’t ask me any questions.” I get tongue tied pretty easily in public.

A: Has it changed your dynamic?
T: Dan actually likes it when I travel with him. I always thought a book tour would be really great and glamorous. Now I understand just how hard doing book tours can be. It’s a lot of hanging out in airports waiting around for planes and phone interviews. Of course he’s like, “See! I told you!” I’m not a very public person so having my picture taken a hundred times in a night is really strange. 

A: We hear an awful lot about Dan’s family, but tell us about yours. Mom, dad, siblings?
T: My mom lives in Spokane, we had a total working class upbringing. She worked for the VA as an administrator, and my dad worked for a public school on an Indian reservation north of Spokane. I have one brother. A born again Christian. Yes there is some tension there…. 

A: Where are they, how were they initially when you got all gay on them—how are they now?
T: My mother was told first and she asked me not to tell my father who was terminally ill with Liver disease and cancer. So I didn’t. I regret that, because I feel like he knew anyways, and it wouldn’t have been too big of an issue. His sense of humor was pretty dry, and he would have liked Dan. 

A: How do they feel about the IGBP?
T: My mom and stepdad are quite proud. 

Terry and Dan will be appearing all over the United States and Canada supporting the It Gets Better Project throughout the summer (check www.itgetsbetter.org for times and dates), and the It Gets Better Project book can be had at www.amazon.com.

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