R U Coming Out
This month we chat to Wayne Dhesi, founder of rucomingout.com, on why he set up the blog and how it helps LGBT people come to terms with their sexuality.
The website has also attracted the attention of celebrities such as Jake Shears, Evan Davis and Dan Sells, who all have interviews on the website.
When Wayne worked as a youth worker, a teenager came out to him, and he didn’t really know how to react. In the end he got a few of his friends to write down their coming out stories, and after talking with a friend he ended up setting up R U Coming Out.
“Obviously I’d been through that experience myself in terms of coming out to other people, but it was a new experience having someone come out to me. To be honest I struggled with it and didn’t really know what to say. I didn’t really know how to support him. He was a 17-year-old lad and I was the first person he’d told.
“I told him what it was like for me and that I was really scared too and that I thought people would have a problem with it. I thought people would never accept it, but when it came down to it everything was fine and everyone was brilliant. Even though I’d told him this, I didn’t feel like it was enough.
“I was thinking of help and support that I could sign post him to, and I couldn’t find anything that didn’t within a click lead to a page on sexual health or what if you’re homeless because you came out as gay. It was all very negative stuff, and for me it wasn’t really like that.
“For me, once I plucked up the courage to actually do it, it was really quite easy. I came out by dating a guy. We had a mutual friend and we were all on a night out. He liked me and my friend told me. It just seemed like a very easy way for me to start to explore that side. I talked to my friends afterwards and they all assumed that I was going to come out one day anyway, so it wasn’t a big deal for them. It was nice that they gave me that space and time to tell them in my own way though. They never forced it or pushed it. I felt better when I told people and came out of my shell a bit more. I was able to start being the person I was always going to be.
“For me there were no negatives. I didn’t have to go through all of those awful things some other people do, and I just felt like there needed to be a positive representation of coming out. That’s when I decided to set up the website for people to share their stories.
“When I first set up the website, I didn’t really get a lot of feedback other than from my friends and people submitting their stories who thought it was a really good idea. But I was prepared for that, because after all I imagine the people that were looking at the website weren’t necessarily wanting to have a two-way conversation. They wanted to dip in and out of the website and read stories they could relate to.
“The thing with coming out is it has to be a very selfish thing. It has to be about you. You can’t think about what is best for other people in your life. It has to be whether you feel ready and you feel comfortable. My first piece of advice for people coming out would be to tell one person first who you know you can trust and you know won’t tell anyone. And once you tell that first person, it does get a huge amount easier. It’s almost like breaking the seal. Once you tell one person you’ll find you want to tell another person.
“If there’s someone else in your life you’re not quite ready to tell then think about whether they’re going to find out anyway and if that would be awkward, but if you don’t want to tell them then don’t. It has to be in your own time and you have to do it in a way and using methods you think suit the situation. I would say if you don’t feel ready, it probably suggests that you’re not and when people do come out, it’s because they’ve got to a point where they feel like they’re ready to.”