by Cathy Rena


On October 11, 2012, National Coming Out Day, Equalize Youth, an emerging web-based non-profit with the mission of empowering lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth and their families, is set to launch its global support network, Out Your Story.

Out Your Story combines key components from sites such as Google Maps, Reddit, and craigslist, and is the first program to be launched by Equalize Youth. This one-of-a-kind platform uses a map interface to organize user-submitted content, including relevant, real-life accounts and resources. Out Your Story empowers youth with a knowledge-base formed by adults, and enables them to connect with relatable content -- the stories, reflections, and coping mechanisms submitted by those that have lived in similar backgrounds and communities, queer folks of their same gender and orientation.

Starting October 11th, the adults that care for the health, happiness, and safety of LGBTQ youth will have the unprecedented opportunity to out their story, and make a meaningful impact for these youth. Additional to sharing basic identity-related criteria like sexual orientation and gender identity, by using Google Maps, contributors will tie their entries to actual places: towns, states, high schools, summer camps. This enables visitors to search by typing a zip code to find a map filled with love and support from people that have been in their shoes. While storytelling initiatives such as It Gets Better have already proven successful, Out Your Story will distinguish itself from these projects through its anonymity, its multimedia versatility, and its unique knowledge base that delivers to visitors content that they personally relate to.

“Out Your Story is an easy, personal, and uncompromising way for everyone to help LGBT youth. I believe that everyone wishes there were something easy they could do, and together, we’re making it happen. Our team is creating an accessible, empowering, and engaging outlet for everyone that wants to positively impact LGBTQ youth. We are committed to maximizing the impact of everyone’s efforts through our platform, and our goal is give these individuals an irrefutable low barrier and high impact opportunity to make a difference in the lives of LGBT youth.” said Derek Gerson, Founder and Executive Director.

Across the globe, individuals are backing the development of Out Your Story. With the active participation of authors, celebrities, artists, and LGBT military personnel, Equalize Youth has ongoing efforts in the crowd-funding portal Indiegogo. The youth-led team behind this 21st century platform will employ the funds to further the Out Your Story platform, and introduce features such as identity-related tags for ethnic backgrounds, religious upbringings, ability/disability, and more. An framework that enables youth to safely submit questions to contributors is also in the works, together with a feature that enables youth to suggest petitions for changes in their school policy.

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