10,000 years, and full equality still isn't realized.
LGBTQ stories are almost as old as storytelling itself. Whether it's stone age rock art from 9660 BCE, sculptures of figures with female breasts and male genitals from the Bronze Age, or depictions of homosexual couples by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, our stories are a permanent part of history.
It's interesting to note that the term homosexuality wasn't coined until 1869 (in Germany) and it's not until the 1920's that a US publication, The New York Times, used the term. In 1903, the first official raid on a gay bathhouse was conducted in the US (12 men were sentenced from 4 to 20 years in prison).
In 1932, the first transgender woman underwent vaginoplasty. In 1938, the word gay was used in a film for first time to reference homosexuality. The 1940's, 50's, and 60's were full of international advancements and major setbacks for the LGBTQ community, and in 1970, the first LGBT Pride Parade was held in New York.
In 1972, Sweden offered free hormone therapy to people who legally change their gender through reassignment surgery. It wasn't until 1977 that Quebec became the first jurisdiction larger than a city or county in the world to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in the public and private sectors, and it wasn't until 1980 that the first major political party in the U.S. endorsed a homosexual rights platform plank.
There are no words to adequately describe the AIDS crisis that so horribly affected the gay community. The rest of the 80's and 90's were undeniably rough in the United States - passionate demonstrations and don't-ask-don't-tell secrets were the norm.
Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir became the Prime Minister of Iceland in 2009, and thus became the first openly gay head of government in modern times. Kyrsten Sinema became the first openly bisexual person elected to the U.S. Congress in 2012, and that same year, San Francisco voted to become the first U.S. city to provide and cover the cost of sex reassignment surgeries for uninsured transgender residents. It wasn't until 2015 that same-sex marriage laws were passed and came into effect nationwide in the United States.
The point? Roughly 10,000 years have passed, and the fight for equality is still very real. VideoOut strives for true equality for everyone, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, gender non-conforming, asexual, pansexual, intersex, questioning, two-spirited people and LGBTQ people of color. We're eagerly awaiting a world where coming out is not a struggle, but an exciting part of our life journey.
VideoOut's founder, Jordan Reeves, didn't come out until he was 23. He knew he was gay from a very early age, but he didn't understand what that really meant. He grew up in Hueytown, Alabama, a place where he felt he had to repress his truth. It was too painful and unfamiliar for him to admit even to himself that he was gay, so he didn't. He lived a lie. He didn't know any gay people, and he didn't know anything about coming out. It wasn't until he heard Cliff Simon's story that he realized he wasn't alone. Cliff's story gave Jordan the strength to share his own.
Jordan wants that same experience for everyone. Stories have the power to unlock our personal truths, and allow us to live as the most authentic versions of ourselves. VideoOut exists so that every story can be told, and nobody ever feels alone. Whether you're 23 in Alabama or 78 in Ohio, VideoOut wants to provide access to stories that inspire and challenge you.
You can also record, share, and add your own story to the library of coming out stories. Visibility matters, and we want the world to know the many faces of the LGBTQ community. Brothers, aunts, mothers, neighbors, doctors, teachers, cashiers, and bus drivers - every story matters. And they all deserve to be heard.
Our common narrative - the one thing we all have in common - is a powerful tool. Many voices become one, and by sharing that collective voice with VideoOut, we amplify real life stories of the LGBTQ community. We believe when our voice is strong, nothing can stand against us and full equality will one day be a reality.
What do we hope for VideoOut?
We hope that VideoOut has a deep, meaningful impact.
We realize that there are lonely, depressed, ostracized, and even suicidal individuals that need a digital hub to find exemplary stories and a place where they can share their own truth. We hope these coming out and ally support videos give a face to an often faceless community. We hope that each story will find it's way to the eyes and ears of individuals who need a connection with an LGBTQ peer – somebody with a similar story – and we hope that connection inspires and encourages.
We hope that VideoOut is a meeting place for LGBTQ people no matter where they are on their journey, and that the VideoOut blog provides a space where their ideas are explored.
We hope that VideoOut highlights the positive trends occurring in the world that affect the LGBTQ community. We also hope it provides a careful point of view on how to tackle and overcome the challenges that the community faces.
We hope VideoOut empowers the LGBTQ community to make wise decisions that further LGBTQ causes in perpetuity.
More than anything, we hope that VideoOut is more than a human interest platform. We hope that it meets a vital need that so many people have as they live their journey as LGBTQ people.