The outpouring of "It Gets Better" videos over the past year—from Dan Savage to Ke$ha, Obama to Justin Bieber—has been remarkable. The simple but profound message that "it gets better" has saved lives.

But there's another important message that many of us need to hear. It doesn't just get better. We make it better—each of us, every day, taking action.

We make it better when we step out of the closet. We make it better when we stand up as straight allies. When we hold hands across the Hawthorne Bridge. When we stand up to hatred and speak out against bigotry. When we talk to the people in our lives about why fairness matters.

Queer and transgender youth, parents and allies are making it better by forming Gay-Straight Alliances, enforcing Oregon's historic Safe Schools Act, and empowering each other to fight homophobia and transphobia in our schools. One great program empowering youth to make change in schools is the Make It Better Project (

Transgender Oregonians are making it better by taking action for fair and inclusive health care. City by city, business by business, trans folks are leading our state into a new era where no insurance company will be able to deny someone medically necessary health care services simply because of their gender identity.

LGBT people of color are making it better in Oregon by producing a new education campaign titled "Our Families" to celebrate all families in Oregon's communities of color—and to remind us that white isn't the only color in the rainbow.

And same-sex couples, excluded from the freedom to marry in Oregon, are making it better by sharing their stories. Sending the simple message to people in their lives that love, commitment, and marriage matter to us all.

It does get better. But only when we work to make it happen.

We're lucky to live in a state that leans progressive, and a city that proudly embraces differences. Many of us moved here from more oppressive political climates. But we still see violence and discrimination around us. Portland remains a place where two men can be beaten for holding hands, where long-time committed couples are denied the freedom to marry, where an insurance company can refuse medical coverage to transgender people.

Making it better requires more than lifting a pint in honor of Pride, it requires action. Contact us today to make a difference with Basic Rights Oregon's Trans Justice program, Racial Justice & Alliance Building program, and Marriage Matters campaign.

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