By Della Hasselle
UNION SQUARE — Broadway stars united to support gay youth by recording "It Gets Better," the latest song in a YouTube campaign meant to inspire youngsters struggling with bullying.
Written by Jay Kuo and Blair Shepard, "It Gets Better" is a response to the recent rash of teen suicides, particularly the death of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi who jumped off the George Washington Bridge after a video of him involved in an intimate act was released online by his roommate.
The recording is important, Shepard said, because it's imperative to recognize that homophobia is still a pervasive issue, even in a city like New York.
"The tragedy that occured at Rutgers University was particularly unfortunate being that we consider New York and Manhattan to be a very tolerant and open-minded part of American society," Shepard told DNAinfo at the recording session at Union Square's Pirate Studios Friday.
Many Broadway singers from the shows Altar Boyz, La Cage, Hairspray and others admitted that they had also been bullied during their lifetime.
"I was picked on in high school, for sure, I was called faggot walking down the hallway," Altar Boyz star Danny Calvert said Friday. "It's sad and awful and it doesn't need to be happening."
Inspired by the YouTube campaign message of the same name, the song is directed towards LGBT youth, telling them to fight intolerance and to not give up hope.
"I think this is something that just has to stop," Broadway star Orfeh said Friday. "Maybe there's a way to step in and talk to these kids, let them know that [bullying] is not OK and that there's help out there."
Singing is a great way to get the message out, many stars said, especially when it comes from a large group from the Broadway community. Broadway singers can be especially inspiring because they are proof that perserverance can pay off.
"Sometimes they identify with characters we play a great deal. There's a level of accessibility to Broadway performers that maybe movie stars don't have," Orfeh added.
"We do have influence, that's why I'm here today."
Other famous figures that have spoken out against LGBT teen bullying include Ellen DeGeneris and Dan Savage, the syndicated columnist who originally launched the "It Gets Better" YouTube channel.
All proceeds from the song, which will be released on YouTube as early as next week, will go to the Trevor Project, a nonprofit company that runs a national suicide hotline for LGBT youth.
"We're just hoping that a song like this will show the younger kids and even the older people...that are still being bullied...that, like this program, it gets better," Calvert said.
"If you can just see beyond the here and now...I promise it's gonna get better."
In a memorial to Clementi, rainbow-colored streamers were tied to the George Washington Bridge Friday.