Remember when you were a kid and your backpack was the number one...

What do we tell the kids? It’s a question I’ve been asking myself and obsessing over in recent months.

It started with the rise of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement, and intensified while watching the vicious, mean-spirited and often embarrassing 2016 election season. Through it all, I came back to the question…what do we tell the kids?

In October, I photographed and interviewed dozens of committed and concerned child development specialists in putting this project together, and it became very clear that I - and we as a brand - needed to keep these projects going. For the sake of today’s youth and future leaders, we couldn’t afford to shy away from often difficult, controversial topics. Stories need to be told, people need to be heard, and awareness needs to be raised so empathy for all people can be achieved.

On January 1st, we made a promise for 2017 - to combat injustice and tackle discrimination by telling stories of those in embattled, marginalized populations, and we are excited to share our first project of the year.

My uncle passed away from AIDS when I was thirteen years old. Next to my parents and sister, he was the closest person in my life, and the fact that he was a gay man, living in fear, unable to truly be himself for so much of his life haunts me to this day. So for our next #WhatDoWeTellTheKids project, I wanted to feature proud members of the LGBTQ community here in my uncle’s hometown of New York to shed light on the power and dangers of language.

I’m hoping this project serves as a catalyst to stop people from using harmful words that have impacted so many good people

Equally important, I hope it acts as a teaching tool for things we SHOULD be telling our kids. As we’ve seen happening around the world, I’m looking to create a ripple that causes a really really big wave of love.

Thank you to all who have taken part in, read and shared this project. Somewhere, my Broadway-loving Uncle Milt is smiling wide, booming, “BRAVO SCOT…BRAVO!”

Chris Kelly

Saturday Night Live Co-Head Writer & Filmmaker

Chris Kelly

Saturday Night Live Co-Head
Writer & Filmmaker

“I came out when I was 18 or 19, but I knew I was gay from the age of 10 or 11 whether I could articulate it or not. So for those 8 or 9 years where I knew but didn’t want anyone else to know, I heard people carelessly saying the words gay or a fag a lot. I didn’t actually experience people calling it to my face or attacking other kids, but the words were casually tossed around to mean things that were dumb or they sucked, so being used in a very negative sense. In some ways that weirdly held more power to me than personal attacks because I wasn’t an active gay person living a sexual live, I just knew I was gay and the words gay or fag were synonymous with dumb or stupid, making it harder to want to come out. When I was in high school, no one was openly out, and part of that was because the only thing we knew about being gay was a thing you laughed at or made fun of.

At least with the people I know and the world I live writing comedy in New York City, I don’t really experience homophobia on a day to day basis as it’s just not ok to say certain things like “that’s gay.” But, one of the things people often say is describing someone and saying something like “he’s gay but you can’t even really tell” as if you can’t even really tell is a better version of gay than when you can really tell, like there’s a sliding scale of gay. Like being gay but seemingly straight is subliminally better than someone who’s gay gay. I feel like I’ve heard well meaning, pro LGBTQ people say something around those lines and I think it’s still homophobic. Kind of like ranking us as to being a better gay than someone who’s more under the radar about it.

So #WhatDoWeTellTheKids? I remember all the things that I thought made me worse than other people in high school have actually made me successful as an adult. I was self conscious about being gay, or not good at sports, or not being the typical thing you prize in a high school boy - straight, strong, fast, girlfriend, etc - as I was funny and liked theater. But being gay has given me empathy because when you’re in the minority or marginalized group, you can see the world in a different way - you know what it’s like to be teased, to be disrespected or not in charge, but it gives you a point of view that becomes valuable. So now as a writer and comedian, I can tell stories, write jokes and characters from a point of view that not everybody has.

The things that you think make you less than, are actually valuable because you have a point of view that others don’t have. You have access to empathy and life experience that other people don’t have. You see the world in a way that a small percentage of the world see it in, and you can move to cities and find a small community of people who have gone through things that you’ve gone through.

Feeling self conscious about being gay feels so far away from me because I remember in high school praying that if there was one thing I could change about me, it would be to wake up the next morning and be straight. But if I could change to be straight right now there’s no way I’d do it.

So for a lack of a better phrase, I would tell kids today that it really does get better.”


The things that you think make you less than, are actually valuable because you have a point of view that others don’t have.

CHRIS KELLY
Saturday Night Live Co-Head
Writer & Filmmaker

Chris Kelly

Saturday Night Live Co-Head Writer & Filmmaker

Chris Kelly

Saturday Night Live Co-Head
Writer & Filmmaker

“I came out when I was 18 or 19, but I knew I was gay from the age of 10 or 11 whether I could articulate it or not. So for those 8 or 9 years where I knew but didn’t want anyone else to know, I heard people carelessly saying the words gay or a fag a lot. I didn’t actually experience people calling it to my face or attacking other kids, but the words were casually tossed around to mean things that were dumb or they sucked, so being used in a very negative sense. In some ways that weirdly held more power to me than personal attacks because I wasn’t an active gay person living a sexual live, I just knew I was gay and the words gay or fag were synonymous with dumb or stupid, making it harder to want to come out. When I was in high school, no one was openly out, and part of that was because the only thing we knew about being gay was a thing you laughed at or made fun of.

At least with the people I know and the world I live writing comedy in New York City, I don’t really experience homophobia on a day to day basis as it’s just not ok to say certain things like “that’s gay.” But, one of the things people often say is describing someone and saying something like “he’s gay but you can’t even really tell” as if you can’t even really tell is a better version of gay than when you can really tell, like there’s a sliding scale of gay. Like being gay but seemingly straight is subliminally better than someone who’s gay gay. I feel like I’ve heard well meaning, pro LGBTQ people say something around those lines and I think it’s still homophobic. Kind of like ranking us as to being a better gay than someone who’s more under the radar about it.

So #WhatDoWeTellTheKids? I remember all the things that I thought made me worse than other people in high school have actually made me successful as an adult. I was self conscious about being gay, or not good at sports, or not being the typical thing you prize in a high school boy - straight, strong, fast, girlfriend, etc - as I was funny and liked theater. But being gay has given me empathy because when you’re in the minority or marginalized group, you can see the world in a different way - you know what it’s like to be teased, to be disrespected or not in charge, but it gives you a point of view that becomes valuable. So now as a writer and comedian, I can tell stories, write jokes and characters from a point of view that not everybody has.

The things that you think make you less than, are actually valuable because you have a point of view that others don’t have. You have access to empathy and life experience that other people don’t have. You see the world in a way that a small percentage of the world see it in, and you can move to cities and find a small community of people who have gone through things that you’ve gone through.

Feeling self conscious about being gay feels so far away from me because I remember in high school praying that if there was one thing I could change about me, it would be to wake up the next morning and be straight. But if I could change to be straight right now there’s no way I’d do it.

So for a lack of a better phrase, I would tell kids today that it really does get better.”

Chris Kelly

Saturday Night Live Co-Head Writer & Filmmaker

Chris Kelly

Saturday Night Live Co-Head
Writer & Filmmaker

“I came out when I was 18 or 19, but I knew I was gay from the age of 10 or 11 whether I could articulate it or not. So for those 8 or 9 years where I knew but didn’t want anyone else to know, I heard people carelessly saying the words gay or a fag a lot. I didn’t actually experience people calling it to my face or attacking other kids, but the words were casually tossed around to mean things that were dumb or they sucked, so being used in a very negative sense. In some ways that weirdly held more power to me than personal attacks because I wasn’t an active gay person living a sexual live, I just knew I was gay and the words gay or fag were synonymous with dumb or stupid, making it harder to want to come out. When I was in high school, no one was openly out, and part of that was because the only thing we knew about being gay was a thing you laughed at or made fun of.

At least with the people I know and the world I live writing comedy in New York City, I don’t really experience homophobia on a day to day basis as it’s just not ok to say certain things like “that’s gay.” But, one of the things people often say is describing someone and saying something like “he’s gay but you can’t even really tell” as if you can’t even really tell is a better version of gay than when you can really tell, like there’s a sliding scale of gay. Like being gay but seemingly straight is subliminally better than someone who’s gay gay. I feel like I’ve heard well meaning, pro LGBTQ people say something around those lines and I think it’s still homophobic. Kind of like ranking us as to being a better gay than someone who’s more under the radar about it.

So #WhatDoWeTellTheKids? I remember all the things that I thought made me worse than other people in high school have actually made me successful as an adult. I was self conscious about being gay, or not good at sports, or not being the typical thing you prize in a high school boy - straight, strong, fast, girlfriend, etc - as I was funny and liked theater. But being gay has given me empathy because when you’re in the minority or marginalized group, you can see the world in a different way - you know what it’s like to be teased, to be disrespected or not in charge, but it gives you a point of view that becomes valuable. So now as a writer and comedian, I can tell stories, write jokes and characters from a point of view that not everybody has.

The things that you think make you less than, are actually valuable because you have a point of view that others don’t have. You have access to empathy and life experience that other people don’t have. You see the world in a way that a small percentage of the world see it in, and you can move to cities and find a small community of people who have gone through things that you’ve gone through.

Feeling self conscious about being gay feels so far away from me because I remember in high school praying that if there was one thing I could change about me, it would be to wake up the next morning and be straight. But if I could change to be straight right now there’s no way I’d do it.

So for a lack of a better phrase, I would tell kids today that it really does get better.”

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