Connecticut College recently honored three members of the community with the 2015 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Service Awards, conferred each year on those who exemplify and uphold the legacy of Dr. King's work.
Brenner Green '12 opens his 'It Gets Better' video blog with this succinct advice that's frank and direct, but also wise.
"If you are watching this video because you're a young person or an athlete - or maybe both - who is struggling to come out, I want you to know that coming out is the best possible decision you can make in your life," Green says.
The video, posted just last month on YouTube and outsports.com is part of the 'It Gets Better' project: an online movement to encourage LGBT youth to accept who they are through personal accounts (told through video blogs) explaining that life gets better. Since its inception in September 2010, the project has received 25,000 submissions from gay adults and allies all across the world, including Lady Gaga, Ellen DeGeneres, Adam Lambert, Barack Obama, Colin Ferrell, David Cameron, Dan Savage and more.
Green, a psychology major and cross country runner, was thrilled when he was approached to make the video. "I had never completely agreed with the 'It Gets Better' project, only because it seemed too focused on the long term effects of coming out; I wanted people to know that it can get better in the short-term. I was happy to be able to share my story and gear it toward showing the immediate benefits."
The request came on the heels of an article Green wrote for outsports.com, in which he explains the confidence he has gained from both running and coming out. The motivation for the video and article came from "Out for the Long Run," a documentary about openly gay student athletes that featured Green during the summer after his senior year of high school and during his freshman year at Connecticut College. Green, who came out in high school, said he decided to attend Connecticut College after an overnight visit with other members of the cross country team.
"It just felt like the right place to be," he said. And he knew he had made the right decision when he first approached his teammates to make sure they would be okay with the filming for "Out for the Long Run."
"Everyone's reactions were so positive that it made the project even more exciting," he said.
"Out for the Long Run" was screened nationwide last year, and since its filming Green has continued his running career, served as co-chair of Spectrum (Connecticut College's gender and sexuality alliance), declared a psychology major and begun working on an honors thesis. Green says his experience with the film has motivated him to continue telling his story in the hopes of inspiring closeted youth. It has also informed much of his academic career as he's strived to incorporate his interest in the coming out process with his study of psychology.
"Conn has really allowed me to combine my academic and social interests. Through the LGBTQ Center and the psychology department, I've been offered great opportunities here."
One such opportunity came during his junior year, when Green was able to study abroad in Amsterdam. As part of a project for the College's Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy certificate program, Green studied the lives of gay teenagers and the process of coming out in the Netherlands. Now, Green is working on a thesis about the relationships between male gay athletes and their heterosexual friends, something he knows a bit about.
"My team and I are like family," he writes in his outsports.com article, "and my coach is like a second father to me."
After he graduates from Connecticut College, Green hopes to continue helping young people discover who they are and what they want to be. He plans on applying to Teach for America, and hopes to eventually become a high school counselor.
- By Sam Norcross '14
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