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NASA Employees Tell LGBTQ Youth: “It Gets Better”

“Being gay doesn’t necessarily define you, it’s just one factor of who you are.”

– NASA Johnson Space Center Deputy Chief of Staff

For over 50 years NASA has inspired people of all ages around the world to set their sights above the sky, to believe in the power of innovation and to not only hope for a better future, but to make it happen. Now, in celebration of LGBT Equality Month, team members from NASA’s Johnson Space Center (and a certain former Starfleet helmsman) tell young people struggling with their identity, “it gets better.”

It’s yet another example of NASA’s commitment to inspiration — regardless of your orientation.

The NASA JSC It Gets Better video is a video project created by the “Out & Allied @ JSC Employee Resource Group” of NASA’s Johnson Space Center. It was created as an outreach tool primarily directed at high school and college-aged lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) individuals who are victims of bullying and/or have been affected by bullying. This video sends the message to current and future NASA employees that it is OK to be LGBTQ, and that NASA JSC management supports and encourages an inclusive, diverse workforce in our workplace.

For more info about Johnson Space Center, click here, and learn more about the It Gets Better project here.

Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas

Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas

Established in 1961 as the Manned Spaceflight Center, NASA’s Johnson Space Center has served as a hub of human spaceflight activity for more than half a century. As the nucleus of the nation’s astronaut corps and home to International Space Station mission operations and a host of future space developments, the center plays a pivotal role in surpassing the physical boundaries of Earth and enhancing technological and scientific knowledge to benefit all of humankind.

About 

A graphic designer in Rhode Island, Jason writes about space exploration on his blog Lights In The Dark, Discovery News, and, of course, here on Universe Today. Ad astra!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jason Blankenship June 4, 2013, 4:05 PM

    With all due respect, and I do mean that since I 100% support everyone having equal rights, regardless of whether they are black or white, gay or straight, I’d prefer if NASA spent their time staying out of social politics. I know the administration is bent on turning NASA into some political wing that helps with Muslim outreach, etc., but this is starting to get ridiculous now. The Kennedy Era NASA guys must be rolling over in their easy chairs or graves at how the current NASA is being misused, marginalized, and abused.

    • Lacey Schmidt June 4, 2013, 11:34 AM

      With all due respect, Sir, I wish you would consider another perspective…maybe it isn’t about being political at all. Maybe it is about encouraging and cultivating the diverse and creative talent pool required to get humanity into deep space exploration and science. All tools are fair and worth investing in when they help you achieve the culmination of talent necessary for bold endeavors.

    • Jason Major June 4, 2013, 4:38 PM

      With NASA being such a powerful and positive force in social media and STEM these days (they were listed as the #8 brand on Twitter by Mashable) it only makes sense that they’d want to make a statement like this. Plus it was put out by an internal group within JSC… approved by the administration, of course, but not necessarily a NASA-wide program. With the respect that astronauts and aerospace engineers have, both past, present and future, I think it’s a great message for the young LGBT community. Now as far as NASA getting marginalized, well… that needs to change.

      • Jason Blankenship June 4, 2013, 4:51 PM

        Since when is it the job of NASA, JSC, or frankly, any other agency taxpayer funded entity, to engage in any kind of political discussion? This speaks to my thoughts on NASA being used and misused, by the administration and progressive politicians within the administration, as an agent of social change. That isn’t their mission and it frankly isn’t the mission of the employees of NASA, to create videos, sanctioned or otherwise, to promote anything related to social change. I’m tired of seeing NASA used this way and frankly I am sick to my stomach at how the administration has treated them, and the space sciences community. It is all about agendas with this administration and misusing the agencies within government, to promote their progressive policies.
        Again, I want to be clear, I am all for gay rights, I support gay marriage, and have no problem with the MESSAGE said here, but I do have a problem with our current administration using NASA in the way they have used them.

        • Jason Major June 4, 2013, 5:06 PM

          We went to the Moon in the 60s so we could beat the Soviets. Lots of great space tech came of it, but was that not an agenda? Nancy Reagan and the White House told us to Just Say No to drugs in the 80s and 90s, Laura Bush wanted to get kids to love reading, and Michelle Obama is fighting childhood obesity. Are those not agendas? Politics are always about agendas, and our taxes pay for politicians. If the current administration wants to help stop kids from being bullied or feeling they have to hide who they are, and they show positive role models (like those at JSC) in order to achieve that, I have no problem with it. I just wish they’d stop cutting the damn science budgets and commit to getting onto the Moon or Mars already.

          Al Shepard sold golf balls. There’s always an agenda.

          • Jason Blankenship June 4, 2013, 5:16 PM

            No, that was a MISSION, very different and I’m surprised you’d make the comparison. In referencing the First Ladies, again, different things, those are causes and all First Ladies have them. There is maybe “always an agenda” within administrations, but this one in particular, seems to take a specific interest in not always using government agencies in the best ways, as we’ve seen with the IRS, the Justice Department, and in 2010, the administration telling Charles Bolden that “Muslim Outreach” should be NASA’s highest priority.

          • Jason Major June 4, 2013, 5:36 PM

            It was indeed a mission, a wonderful one — quite possibly the pinnacle of human achievement, even — but it was driven and spurred by a pressing agenda that echoed with the beeps of Sputnik. And if “It Gets Better” isn’t a cause like “Just Say No,” I don’t know what is.

            And to play you-know-who’s advocate for a moment, we now partner closely with Japan and Russia in our space programs, both of whom were once blood-red (and officially) enemies of the United States. Things change, and with the length of time needed to develop space technology I don’t think it’s a necessarily a bad idea for NASA to have good relations with anyone.

            Now that EPO has been stabbed by the sequester, though, I doubt long-distance outreach will be such a high priority for a while.

          • Jason Blankenship June 4, 2013, 5:39 PM

            Again sir, comparing First Ladies causes to “official” videos like this, are very different things. NASA has no mandate, or isn’t supposed to have a mandate, to address social policy, that isn’t their mission. First Ladies, traditionally, DO address social policies and take up the “fight”. These are two entirely different things.

        • Daniel June 4, 2013, 6:38 PM

          I understand your point of view but I don’t agree that NASA is making social commentary. The agency has a long history of outreach in an attempt to inspire our youth. In the past NASA provided outreach for young girls, and if you tried hard enough you could claim it a sociopolitical commentary regarding women in the workplace campaigns. I’m sure they may have provided outreach to African Americans as well, but I’m not aware of it to be honest.

          It’s easy to mistake a campaign like this as political commentary, and it’s easy to suspect. Just look at climate change. It started as an honest investigation on temperature patterns. Now it’s a platform for the left and has created an entirely new multi-billion dollar industry with its own copia of scamware.

    • dphuntsman June 4, 2013, 4:55 PM

      I think your comment is off-base. I’m a 38-year NASA engineer – 15 years at JSC – and this is not about ‘social politics'; it’s about workplace tolerance and inclusion, for everyone, no exceptions. And as Robert Ingersoll said, ‘Tolerance is giving to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself.’ That’s all that’s being done here.

      • Jason Blankenship June 4, 2013, 5:01 PM

        We’ll just agree to disagree, but I think this is all about social politics and there are other examples, since 2009, of NASA being used in ways they shouldn’t be. If someone within the auspices of NASA is being intolerant and excluding others based on anything, deal with them, why create a video obviously aimed at the public? That doesn’t jive with what you’re saying the video is.
        As an aside, thank you for serving NASA and the rest of us.

      • Pooua June 4, 2013, 5:38 PM

        You’ve been drinking the Kool Aid. “[W]orkplace tolerance and inclusion, for everyone, no exceptions”? Really? I find that difficult to believe! It can’t be literally true, and you must know that. NASA does fire people, after all, sometimes for their behavior. The question is, what behavior does NASA tolerate and what behavior does it not tolerate? The homosexual advocacy movement wants to pretend that accepting their perversion makes us more tolerant, but it only makes us more tolerant *of them*, not of *everyone*.

        • Daniel June 4, 2013, 6:23 PM

          It’s delightful to see that people of your breed dying out. Out with the old, in with the new with a mix of survival of the fittest.

        • dphuntsman June 4, 2013, 7:22 PM

          The “homosexual advocacy movement” as you put it is about human rights for those humans who just happen to have been born homosexual; just as (I guess you’d say) the ‘black advocacy”movement was about human rights for those who just happen to have been born of dark skin. Do you play this game – which I consider dishonest – with all minorities who aren’t like you?

          • Pooua June 5, 2013, 3:48 AM

            Attempts to dignify homosexuality by masquerading it as “human rights” are dishonest. Homosexuality is self- and socially-destructive.

          • Gyula Gubacsi June 5, 2013, 10:51 AM

            Equal in terms of work capacity. Equal in all aspect. Social equality and personal preferences are two distinct things you know.

          • Pooua June 5, 2013, 2:50 PM

            Homosexual behavior is self- and socially-destructive. That is not equal to heterosexual behavior.

          • Gyula Gubacsi June 5, 2013, 3:05 PM

            You are yet to explain this sentence. Repeating it will not make it true.

          • Pooua June 6, 2013, 1:21 AM

            Oh, I explained it. You just don’t see anything disturbing about a behavior that infects 20% of its participants with a lethal disease. I can’t help you there. What I can do is oppose anyone like you from telling people that we should just accept this behavior.

          • Gyula Gubacsi June 6, 2013, 9:01 AM

            Let me get this straight because you seemed to be fixated on this single point of HIV. According to all studies I’ve read about it, the HIV exposure is due to a single thing: unprotected sex. The exposure is higher up because there’s a bigger chance to get infected by having anal penetration. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but unprotected sex and anal sex isn’t restricted to gay men.

            The issue isn’t the “gay behaviour”, it is the unprotected sex part. According to the studies, on average, the unprotected sex among gay people are similar to the rate of heterosexual people. In fact, you can see how unprotected sex is the issue of a behaviour in many countries, having much higher _heterosexual_ rates of HIV. So your point about it is a point about unprotected sex, which has nothing to do with the acceptance of same sex preferences. It has everything to do with an other social agenda: sexual education. If all casual sex partners would use condoms and use them properly, the rate of HIV and STDs would drop dramatically, among gays and heterosexuals as well.

            You’re drumming up an issue which has nothing to do with the value of these people, or their admittance to our society. You have to learn not to get involved with other people’s sexual partner preferences, and should be more involved in campaigning for safe sex, instead of divert threads about workplace acceptance at NASA, and elsewhere. In that way, I would have no doubt that you genuinely concerned of the health of these people instead of forcing your sexual preference on others.

          • Pooua June 7, 2013, 3:46 AM

            If heterosexuals and homosexuals have unprotected sex at similar rates, why are homosexual men 83 times more likely to be infected with HIV/AIDS? If your statement were true, one should expect similar rates of infection, not a disparity of 83 times. Your arguments are common from homosexual activists, who use great contortions of logic and fact to present homosexuality as the equivalent of heterosexuality. They need us to believe that so badly that they refuse to admit the obvious; their behavior makes them a huge health risk!

            According to all the studies that *I’ve* read, such as from the National Institutes of Health, one important factor that has increased the incidence of HIV in homosexual men in California is they intentionally engage in risky sex practices, because the risk increases the thrill of sex. Homosexual men combine this risky sexual behavior with IV drug use, which accounts for most of the incidence of HIV among IV drug users. So, sex education isn’t going to resolve this problem. These men use their knowledge of what constitutes risky sexual practices to engage in risky sexual practices, rather than avoid them.

            The sex practices in various countries vary. So, it is not surprising that heterosexual sexual practices vary. Unprotected sex is a vague term that does not do justice to what constitutes risky sexual practice. A more accurate description is promiscuous sex. HIV rates are highest amongst populations in which infected individuals engage in sex with multiple partners. Promiscuity has always been a core part of homosexuality in the US, far more than it has been amongst heterosexuals in the US. In other nations with high rates of HIV, the disease spreads primarily because infected men have sex with multiple women, who, in turn, have sex with more than one man. One can engage in unprotected sex without significantly raising their risk of HIV, but promiscuity puts the population at risk.

            HIV isn’t the only disease for which homosexuals are at an increased risk. I have read of a half-dozen other diseases and syndromes that are unusually high among (and sometimes exclusive to) homosexuals, including drug-resistant gonorrhea, syphilis and TB, to name a few. Those three drug-resistant diseases have seen a sharp rise in number of cases these the last few years, virtually all of that increase from homosexuals.

        • Gyula Gubacsi June 5, 2013, 10:56 AM

          There’s no “homosexual advocacy movement” here. There are people who advocate tolerance toward people with diverse sexual needs and preferences (with adult, consensual acts obviously).

          If one would advocate homosexual acts at work that would be just as condemned as is advocating heterosexual acts.

          • Pooua June 5, 2013, 2:40 PM

            Pardon the pun, but NASA did not come up with this idea in a vacuum. Even if, somehow, NASA has only Liberal-minded humanists in the absence of any homosexual advocates inside or out of the agency, its current head very much *is* advocating for homosexuality.

            According to the US Centers for Disease Control, 1 out of 5 homosexual men in the 12 largest US cities is infected with HIV/AIDS. Homosexual men in the US have an 83 times greater chance of being infected with HIV/AIDS as heterosexual men do. This is entirely due to the difference in sexual preferences that you bunch of Liberal egg-heads think we should embrace!

          • Gyula Gubacsi June 5, 2013, 3:15 PM

            So, let me see if I get your drift. According to statistics (you know, things that can prove one thing and the opposite) show that 20% of homosexual men are infected with HIV. OK. What about it? It is an issue that has nothing to be accepted as a gay men in a workplace.

            Homosexuality isn’t a single behaviour. Some gay men use condoms regularly, some doesn’t. It is a problem in many countries to get the population use condoms in general. The same should be adopted and promoted within the gay community. So they have an issue which they have to work themselves out. But this has nothing to do with this conversation. Also, this message go not focus only on gays, but the entire LGBTQ bunch, just saying.

            “its current head very much *is* advocating for homosexuality.”

            Sorry, but I will need some evidence for this. I’m not aware of any NASA PR material that was advocating homosexual acts.

          • Pooua June 6, 2013, 1:19 AM

            Who does NASA report to?

            My “drift” is that homosexuality is a self- and socially-destructive behavior. You let that 20% infected-by-a-lethal-disease rate bounce right off your head as if it were a case of the sniffles. Apparently, 83 times more vulnerability to a lethal disease also doesn’t faze you. I guess that makes sense; it doesn’t faze the homosexual community, either.

          • William Sparrow June 5, 2013, 9:53 PM

            And a large percentage of children in Sub-Saharan Africa are afflicted with HIV/AIDS. What’s your point?

          • Pooua June 6, 2013, 12:03 AM

            What is your point? Are you claiming that whatever sub-Saharan Africa is doing is working? We aren’t there, and I don’t recommend emulating them.

          • William Sparrow June 6, 2013, 8:42 PM

            No, I’m simply pointing out that a larger percentage of children in Sub-Saharan Africa are afflicted with HIV/AIDS than homosexual men in the 12 largest US cities, and I’m fairly certain these children aren’t practicing unprotected gay sex. Gyula Gubasci does a comprehensive job in explaining below, so I won’t repeat those relevant points.

          • Pooua June 7, 2013, 4:02 AM

            It’s odd, but every time I have pointed out that homosexual men in the US have hugely greater rates of HIV than do heterosexual men, there is always someone in the crowd who points to HIV rates in Africa. We are not in Africa, so why you think that is relevant is a mystery, unless it is to deflect attention from the hazard posed by homosexuality. This goes to the core of American homosexuals in refusing to accept responsibility for their own actions. Homosexuals, even more than Leftists, are self-entitled and self-indulgent, so it is not surprising that is the way arguments about homosexuality run.

            You cannot directly compare HIV rates in the US with HIV rates in Africa because sex practices in the US are completely different from sex practices in Africa, particularly in those regions of the African continent that have high rates of HIV. Heterosexual sex practices in the infected regions of the African continent are not the same as in the US.

          • Jordan June 13, 2013, 12:03 AM

            By according equal rights to homosexual members of our society, and by treating them more fairly, they will live out more freely, and will feel more comfortable in seeing medical doctors for more comprehensive health checkups thereby reducing the rate of HIV/AIDS.

            Furthermore if a person is homosexual, there is no reason why it should offend anyone. Why should one be so insecure in their sense of self-identity in seeing homosexual or heterosexual couples?

            What matters most in all of this is respect for human dignity. One would find it difficult to nurture their innate talents and contribute and thrive in society if they are also suffering needless discrimination and repression. So be brave in support of Love, Justice and Fairness on this. For all you know some of your closest friends are suffering in silence, and a show of support can go a long way.

      • Irving June 5, 2013, 1:02 AM

        Spare us the “tolerance” lectures, unless you’ve taken “bigot” and “racist” and “homophobe” out of your vocabulary.

        I’m tired of subsidizing you hypocrites.

  • JR Wolfe June 4, 2013, 11:57 AM

    I don’t see this as “social politics”. If anything this is public health. I understand how difficult it is for many straight people to underestimate the impact of what it is like to be a gay adolescent. Many people have had it tough through teen years and as a result may minimize what it is truly like. There is an enormous amount of daily fear, stress from the risk of exposure leading to ostracism or violence, and an overwhelming inability to look to the future when you begin to come to terms with being gay in a restrictive environment at that age. It can wear people down and many find it difficult to cope with.

    I know, I went through this myself. And even now as I look back as a very happy, successful adult, I wish I had one person who could have told me “it gets better”, because it did – for me and many other people I know. And our society is getting better too – in a large part thanks to people like these at NASA.

    As long as even one person can reach another and improve the quality his or her life or, in extreme cases, help prevent a suicide; then we are not talking politics, we are talking about human decency and compassion.

  • Jason Blankenship June 4, 2013, 4:58 PM

    I understand that, however, it isn’t the place of NASA to be an agent of social change and nothing in the video was about what you describe. I do peripheral work with the National Weather Service and I’d have the same opinion if this video was full of Department of Commerce employees. I think NASA can do wonders but if anything, this kind of stuff is emblematic of where NASA is today. The Obama administration is more interested in using them to assist with Muslim outreach and promoting a progressive agenda, than focusing on the very things you and I care about.

    • Lacey Schmidt June 4, 2013, 5:05 PM

      I personally think this video is emblematic of what I describe…myself and all of the face featured in this video are examples of how and why NASA is able to recruit million dollar corporate talent for 5 figure salaries (saving the tax pay millions in labor costs right there). I go to work everyday for peanuts for two primary reasons (one of them featured in this video) 1) to contribute to something great than myself (probably why you work for NWS yourself) and 2) because I know that at NASA I can work without wasting a lot of energy defending my self worth and contributions against prejudices related to my personal characteristics or private life. Regardless of Obama or any administrations intentions to use NASA, outreach like this ensure folks like me, and you, will practically donate our best services to our country. Finally, video outreach production like this are usually started by a student intern or co-op at NASA and everyone involved usually donates their personal time and effort to produce (meaning the administration has little to do with it besides approval and the tax-payer doesn’t pay anything extra for it).

      • Jason Blankenship June 4, 2013, 5:11 PM

        I completely respect that opinion and agree that NASA has people full of immense talent and I am glad they are at NASA, instead of somewhere else. NASA needs the best and brightest, that is without question. I also understand how these videos can get started….but, when you put the logo on their, it gets to be a bit of a different story. With all that said, I think, unfortunately, that the administration is more interested in promoting social change, than using NASA the way their were intended. That is purely an opinion on my part and probably differs from your opinion, but I appreciate the discussion and all that NASA’s employees do.

        • Lacey Schmidt June 4, 2013, 5:16 PM

          Well said. :) Thanks for being open to discuss it.

    • Paul McCarthy June 5, 2013, 12:14 AM

      NASA is all about social change. It’s whole mission is to change the way our society views and interacts with the Universe. The most obvious way it does this is to send people and machines into space, but to claim that NASA doesn’t affect the social fabric seems to be missing the whole point of what NASA is about. From the earliest missions, to sending people to the moon to exploring the planets in our solar system and launching telescopes that have redefined our place in the Universe.

      • Pooua June 5, 2013, 4:04 AM

        “It’s whole mission is to change the way our society views and interacts with the Universe.” No, it’s whole mission is to perform aeronautical and space exploration research. What you are describing is PBS.

      • Jason Blankenship June 5, 2013, 1:20 PM

        You couldn’t be more incorrect, sir. NASA’s mission is not about enacting social change or commenting even, on social policy.

  • Pooua June 4, 2013, 5:35 PM

    Oh, NASA is trying to upstage Dr. Ruth, now? I thought it was a space exploration agency, but I guess they have re-purposed their budget.

  • jgreene777 June 4, 2013, 5:48 PM

    Can we stop adding letters and just come up with a word for LGBTQWNMK people?

  • Planemo June 4, 2013, 10:31 PM

    I recently saw and spoke with a friend who is gay and Jewish. I have not spoken, or have seen him much in the past 5 years. He explained to me what the professional doctors and scientists has told him over the last 5 years. One genetic scientist doctor said, “he believes it is genetic in nature at some period in time within the womb”. Another Doctor in another discipline told him it is ‘demonic in nature’. And still another Doctor said it is ‘mind over matter’.

    Then he asked me. What do you( I )think? I said simply, “I have no clue”. Genetics sounds logical. I then paused and said, “by the Grace of God there go i”. He then said ‘that was the best answer he has heard in years’.

    • Pooua June 5, 2013, 4:09 AM

      My opinion is that homosexuality is an acquired behavior, analogous to one’s preference in food, language or other behaviors. No one is born craving haggis or chili; they learn to associate these foods with their cravings. Many factors influence our preferences, but it ultimately boils down to what we choose to encourage in ourselves.

      • Planemo June 5, 2013, 5:09 AM

        We are all intitled to our own opinions. Many have heard this saying. “An opinion is like a butthole, we all got one”. A bit crude for some, but it is direct and has been around for years. Here is a better way to explain it. “IF YOU HAVE NOT EXPERIENCED A CERTAIN SITUATION THEN HOW WOULD YOU KNOW”? My sentiments exactly. Egos and know-it-alls usually show’s its face. People being hooked on ‘opiates’ to a physical or mental handicap. No one should say they know what it is like unless they have walked in the particular situation he or she has or is experiencing. It is that simple.

        Homosexuality is not normal. No one knows why or how this condition or whatever you want to call it. I don’t care what their IQ is. Everyone is clueless. Some scientists say it is a mix up of hormones at some time and point in the gestation period in the mother womb. Some say it is genetics. Others science disciplines it is genetics between both parents. I lean towards a time and point in the gestation period in the mothers womb. If science knew the answer, I am sure they would fine some way to correct it.

        Who knows, maybe 50, 100, 500+ years from now. Science will have a break through. All I know, they go through hell from youth to adulthood. I will say this one last time here. “For by the Grace of God, there go I”

      • William Sparrow June 5, 2013, 10:01 PM

        You’re certainly entitled to your opinion, but I’d like to ask you a question, and it’s really quite simple. Why would someone choose a lifestyle that will marginalize them in society and open them up to ridicule. For the record, I’m straight, if that even matters.

        • Pooua June 6, 2013, 12:01 AM

          People have lots of reasons for choosing the way they live, and some of those reasons are not compatible w/ social popularity. Why would someone choose to smoke? Why would someone choose to starve himself? Why would someone choose to kill himself? People don’t always choose behaviors with good outcomes.

          • William Sparrow June 6, 2013, 8:44 PM

            You’re really going to compare smoking and suicide to homosexuality? I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree, because I can’t even respond to such a ridiculous argument.

          • Pooua June 7, 2013, 3:54 AM

            I’m reading that as you can’t respond to my argument, so you are ridiculing it, instead.

  • Irving June 5, 2013, 1:00 AM

    Why am I being forced at gunpoint to feed money into such an organization that panders to this crap and the “global warming” lunatics?

  • Jim Brant June 5, 2013, 2:16 PM

    Please keep garbage like this out of UT. There’s enough of this elsewhere everywhere you look, from a group trying to legitimize and push their lifestyle and agenda on the rest of us.

    • Pooua June 6, 2013, 1:40 AM

      I don’t fault UT for reporting the news, as long as it is just reporting the news. I don’t believe it should act as a propaganda arm for immoral social causes.

  • Deep Blue June 6, 2013, 12:35 AM

    I somehow expected more from the readers of UT. Too much stupid in the comments.

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