When Jonny Drubel (Rich Kids of Beverly Hills) was 16 years old, he confided to his friends that he was gay. One of those friends didn’t keep his secret, and soon it was all over their little New Hampshire town.
Drubel didn’t feel ready to come out; he was depressed and struggling. But with the town talking, he felt he had to tell his family. His parents responded with loving support.
“I felt this weight lift off my shoulders. I could breathe. I could be this person that I’d dreamed of being … not being worried about someone finding out my secret … this is why #ComingOutMatters,” Drubel, now 26, says in the video he made for #ComingOutMatters, an online community and social media campaign that he created along with the nonprofit Students Moving America.
Drubel said that he loves the It Gets Better project—in which people make video messages of support for young LGBT people—but was left wondering, what about the interim?
“What about the time between getting better and now?” he said; what about the time between now and the time when a young LGBT person can, for instance, move to a city with a thriving LGBT community?
Remembering his struggling teenage self, and the empowering feeling that followed coming out, Drubel wanted to offer encouragement to people going through that process. He started #ComingOutMatters to compile stories about people navigating the coming out process.
“We’re just trying to help the process of it getting better,” he said.
Since the initiative was launched in March, there have been more than 15,000 submissions, Drubel said. Most are videos while others are photos or text.
People who want to participate can share their stories on social media with the hashtag #ComingOutMatters; the content will stream to the website. Stories can come not only from LGBT people but also straight allies who want to share the story of a friend or loved one coming out.