What is The Outing Project?
The Outing Project is an educational yet fun look into people’s lives who are out and #HappyOut. For me being #HappyOut makes me who I am and if I can help a young person deal with this, see that it’s all good in the end, then my project will be successful.
When did the journey for The Outing Project begin?
The idea for The Outing Project began nearly two years ago. I work with lots of young people and was witness to someone who was going through the coming out process. I saw the changes in behavior, her stresses and anxieties, and I felt powerless to help. I really felt that I could have and should have done more for her. At the time I tried to be supportive and realised that some young people don’t have this support – they don’t have someone they can talk to about being gay or coming out. So I decided to put the Project into motion and do something for anyone who feels like they don’t know what to do or who to talk to. I think as a young person today the media puts huge pressures on them to be a certain way. They can be consumed by what the media thinks and says what their friends think. I feel it’s important for them to know that it’s ok to be different and that there are people who understand them and there is support out there.
What message do you want to give to the LGBTQ community and do you hope this project will achieve?
The main idea for the project is to make a film for LGB young people about how others came to realise they were LGB, how they felt at the time, and how they went about coming out to those around them. I want to get real people, just like them, to share their stories so they can see that yes, it’s hard; yes, it can be an emotional process and sometimes people don’t understand you; but that it’s okay to be gay, bi or anything else. I want them to see that to accept themselves and who they are, it’s the first step to feeling happy.
The Outing Project film will hopefully get these messages across and be a starting point for anyone who is confused about their sexuality. Every day I see young people struggle with their sexuality and I want them to realise that they are worth something. I want them to be confident within themselves and understand that being different to their friends is actually a fine thing!
I’m London-based and there is already a great hub for LGB people here. It’s a really huge network to be in which is proving helpful. When I get to the filming stage I think London will be such an exciting area to get people involved.
What has this project taught you? Where there any particular obstacles that the project had to overcome?
There is so much to be learnt through The Project. It started with a small idea, but putting it into action has been huge. The LGBT support has been great, people have been really positive, and I have been given lots of ideas from others who have more experience in the media side of things. I’m surprised at how quickly things move forward so I’m really excited about taking it to the next level.
The Twitter account is popular and growing which is great for asking for help and giving advice. I’ve started getting written coming out stories for the web launch, as I’d like to have a collection of items for people to read first. I’m really keen to have stories from all kinds of people from different social and cultural backgrounds. This is important for me as I think young people sometimes can get tied up in their own worlds – acceptance of all kinds is part of the process.
I remember as a kid that sometimes I wasn’t really aware of a bigger picture. The greatest challenge so far has been the time and money aspect of the project. While at work it’s hard to find the time to give it the attention it needs, but I’m getting there. My media and IT skills are also coming along. I’m learning as I go and using lots of people for tips. Once the website is up and running then I think it will be easier to get people to commit to being involved in the film. Eventually I want to hold an event where anyone who wants to tell their story in person can come along and I can then use these stories to piece the film together. It’s really interesting reading the ones I’ve got so far – lots of different experiences and methods of coming out.
Where do you see this project going for the future?
In the near future there will a new website up and running, with merchandising which includes t shirts with the logo and slogan for the project. Remember to follow the Outing Project on Twitter for the latest updates!
If more people want to email me their stories too that would be super as the more I have for the website launch the better it will look.
How would you sum The Outing Project up?
To sum it all up #HappyOut is the basis of the project, loving life, loving yourself and who you are is the most important thing if you want to move forward. I really want young people to know that they are not alone. It’s okay to be different and that being gay is not something they should fear. It’s not wrong and they have done nothing wrong.