I knew I was gay when I was about 15 I think, but didn't come out for another six years. During those years I felt pretty lost to be honest. I didn't feel I really belonged anywhere. I wasn't straight, I knew that, but I didn't consider myself as gay either because I wasn't out yet. I wanted to try and do all I could to help J to understand that he didn't need to be as scared as he was about telling people he was gay. I wrote down my experiences of coming out and gave them to J to read. I asked my friends if they could write their stories down and they did.
Suddenly, and simply, J felt a little bit more comfortable with his future. He realised that he would have to tell people but that he was under no pressure to do it a particular way. More importantly, he realised that every happy, secure gay man or woman had to go through that difficult and often emotionally frought period to become who they are.
The website was not the first concept for the project. The idea for a book that could be sent to colleges and school libraries came after a conversation with my friend Shelley. I took to Twitter and Facebook and the stories came flooding in. Once I realised that there were many more people willing to share their stories than I had expected, the website seemed like an obvious thing to do and so after a few lessons in web design from my friend Yog, RUComingOut.com was born in March 2012.
There are far too many people and organisations to thank but I have to mention attitude magazine who, as well as supporting the first birthday event which takes place next week, they got behind the project really early on.
The feedback I have received and the comments I see underneath the stories on the site confirm that this project is helping people. I've always said that there is no rule book to coming out but if someone somewhere reads just one sentence in one story that they connect with, then there's a chance we've made a difference to their life.
I have big plans for RUComingOut and with your continued support I know that they will be realised. If you have any ideas, suggestions or want to write a feature for the website please get in touch with me. If you have lots of money and you're not sure what to do with it, then again, please contact me and maybe I can convince you to become a corporate sponsor for the site.
I received an email this week and although I have taken the name of the send off, I would like to share it with you. I've changed the odd detail to protect the senders identity as he is still very much on his coming out journey.
I just wanted to thank you. Since I sent you my story I have received a lot of support and really kind words from everyone. It filled me with new confidence and appreciation of myself (something I never thought I could do).
This website has helped me in ways I never thought possible and I truly believe it is the best resource for gay people on the Internet. Just sitting and reading other people's stories make me feel like I'm not alone in this world and that there is a huge community of people that are truly special in ways that they may not even realise.
We really have made a difference, so thank you!