“It Gets Better”
Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata):
A noxious invasive species in North America, garlic mustard grows and spreads quickly, choking out native plants and ravaging habitats. Garlic mustard poisons the ground it grows on, releasing antifungal agents that disrupt the relationships between native plants and the mycorrhizal fungi that give them nutrients. Combating garlic mustard is a constant process for the areas it affects, sometimes requiring substantial cooperative effort and even the use of blowtorches.
I see many parallels between garlic mustard and homophobia or other types of bigotry. Negative stereotypes, misinformation, and hurtful jokes are easily replicated and spread quickly, just like garlic mustard. Hatred and discrimination disrupt relationships between marginalized people and their communities, isolating them from the support and sustenance they need to thrive.
The “It Gets Better” campaign was launched in 2010 by Dan Savage. It was a series of videos aimed at queer youth, assuring them that “it gets better”: that the bullying and harassment youth may be facing now will eventually end as they get older. While giving hope to the isolated is good, the idea that society is on a constant upward arc is a fallacy. Throughout history human society has gone up and down in its acknowledgement and acceptance of human rights for all. There is no reason to think we are any different. Just as with managing invasive species, true progress requires constant vigilance and action.