U.K. Site Shares Coming Out Stories of Young and Old Alike

British youth worker Wayne Dhesi launches RUComingOut.com, a collection of coming out narratives meant to be a resource for the closeted.

BY Daniel Reynolds

September 06 2012 4:00 AM ET

Hatred, self-loathing, rejection from family and friends, and even instances of physical and emotional abuse are all chronicled in the virtual pages of RUComingOut.com. But despite hardships and hurdles, the majority of these writers attest that, in the long run, coming out changed their lives for the better.
 
“It’s a really important step,” Dhesi says. “You can’t control what other people say. You control what you do.”
 
As the sole editor and webmaster of RUComingOut.com, Dhesi encounters surprises daily. “I thought this would be a resource for the younger generation,” the founder says. “But I was surprised by how many older people are still closeted.”

Reflecting the diversity of his readers' ages, Dhesi gave a 60-year-old man, who goes by the name “Jay,” space for a diary, where he shares the experience of coming out to his wife and grown daughters. Jay describes his first time marching in a gay pride parade as: “an unbelievable experience. For the past fifty some years I have hit, pretended, shielded, cloaked, and closeted myself at every step of the way… It was exhilarating, freeing, and fascinating.”

Dhesi also wasn’t prepared for the reactions of straight people who visited the website. “Many of them told me that they never really thought about how difficult the process of coming out was,” he says. “These stories were an eye-opener for them about the positive role they can play in the lives of their gay friends.”
 
Straight allies have responded by sending in stories of their own. Gwen, 59, from Warwickshire, came out as a straight supporter after reading her son’s submission. “He was obviously very nervous so I knew it had to be something really important… when he blurted out, ‘I’m gay,’ I found myself thinking, oh – is that all!”
 
While the website is presently maintained and funded by Dhesi, he is exploring partnerships with corporations in order to increase its visibility and reach more users. He also expressed interest in publishing a book, to be used as an educational tool in schools.
 
As for the teenager who inspired the website? He recently came out to his parents. 
 
“At the time, you don’t realize how out-of-proportion that fear is to reality,” Dhesi says. “If you can’t be yourself, you can’t reach your full potential.”
 
RUComingOut? If so, submit a story here.
Tags: Youth

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