I guess I'll be the first to come here and introduce myself. Hi! I'm Justin and I work for HERO, the charity that runs OutLife and these forums. I've been working here for just over a year now, and before this I used to work as a videogames journalist. This gig is much more satisfying though!
One of the reasons I wanted to work for HERO is that I've struggled with quite difficult mental health issues for the past decade. Knowing that I wanted to help LGBTQ+ people like myself and also do mental health work, HERO and OutLife were the perfect opportunity.
Outside of the day job I'm still a really avid gamer, and dog owner/lover. Oh, and I'm a Londoner (for my sins).
I really hope you all find these forums useful. Welcome to the OutLife community!
Hi Justin. Thanks for doing this forum. I am 62 and ID as male gay. I wanted to say how much I have appreciated the London Gay Switchboard over the years. I remember phoning them in the 70's when they first started out. The internet wasn't invented then so it was especially helpful. I still occasionally ring them. Depression over my sexuality has been a recurring thing - the impact it had in my life and family was especially hard due to Christian fundamentalism and its very negative (frightening) views on the subject of homosexuality. Very sad that young folk still often find it hard. Would love it if parents would not assume their children are heterosexual and therefore make it so hard for them to come out. Thanks again for this opportunity. Best wishes. Simon.
Many thanks Justin. Just seen your post on Facebook regarding Switchboard. I have only just been bold enough to put 'interested in men' in my status a few weeks ago and made it viewable by 'friends'. It's a big step for me as is also my 'liking' your page on there, and 'loving' that post. I joined a group called Gay Gardeners recently. It's a closed group but already I feel at home in a non-threatening. Baby steps and all that. I have been out to many friends and some family over the years but never completely out if you know what I mean. I got married and had children but my marriage ended after 12 years with a nervous breakdown. That was 18 years ago and I now have a chronic neuropathy and fatigue syndrome.
Re being gay, my children are supportive as also is my ex wife, but it has taken time for that to happen. I have to live with my mother and sister these days and life can be difficult. I am not free to be myself but am working on it. My sister believes gays go to hell. Anyway, forgive my self indulgence but wanted put you in the picture. My joining this group is very much part of my journey, albeit so late in life, to freedom. I have only had one gay relationship and that was 14 years ago. I was too ill to maintain it but it had been a wonderful experience. I was still identifying as a Christian then, but now am atheist. It has been very hard coming out as atheist as well as gay in my family but I am getting there. The atheist thing has been vital for my freedom to be myself as gay. Thanks so much for reading. I guess I should introduce myself in the forum. Cheers. Simon.