Inspired by his late uncle, who felt passionately about preventing antigay bullying, 12-year-old Sam Maden has launched a campaign to ask the Boston Red Sox to make an "It Gets Better" video and help fight homophobia in sports.
In the past 24 hours more than 5,000 people already have joined the petition launched by Maden on Change.org, according to a news release. The seventh-grader from Nashua, N.H., generated the idea for a school project about making a difference in the world when he thought of his uncle Chris, who died unexpectedly in January at age 43 and believed strongly in the importance of ending the bullying of gay children and young people perceived to be gay.
"When I found out about my uncle's passing, I didn't know what to do," said Sam, who plays on three baseball teams and was invited by the Red Sox to shout "Play ball!" before a sold-out crowd at Fenway Park. "This is something I can do to honor him. Uncle Chris knew how much I love the Red Sox and I think he would have been thrilled with the team making an 'It Gets Better' video to support kids."
Tara Maden, Sam's mother, said that his uncle gave Sam a necklace from the Trevor Project before he died that the young man wears every day.
"I'm so proud of Sam," she said. "Stopping the bullying of gay teens has become very important to him. It's his way of channeling his grief over the loss of his uncle into something positive. If the Red Sox can become another voice telling kids that life does get better, it could have a big impact on these kids and homophobia in sports."
Last month, in response to a petition from fan Sean Chapin on Change.org signed by more than 6,000 people, the San Francisco Giants became the first professional sports team to create an "It Gets Better" video. More than 10,000 videos have been created since September when the project was launched by Dan Savage and his partner, Terry Miller, in response to the epidemic of suicides among bullied gay teens and those perceived to be gay.