Being gay is okay: Information and advice for gay, lesbian, bisexual and unsure under twenty-fives.
BGIOK was born in 2000. It's hard to remember the exact moment I decided to create it, but I remember being very excited. Through friends and a gay youth group I used to attend, I'd met a lot of people who had had problems with their sexuality. I'd encountered a few obstacles along the way myself and had been homophobically bullied from a young age. It occurred to me that there was a lack of websites for young gay, bi or unsure people that offered genuine advice and support; a website that attempted to answer the questions that the reader felt they couldn't ask at school, of friends or family.
I'm sure I don't have to tell you what generally happens when you type the 'g' word into a search engine. I had also been disappointed with some of the existing gay youth websites which seemed to focus on celebrity gossip, sex and fashion, and were usually no more than two links away from hardcore porn. Knowing what Kylie is up to is not very useful to someone who's been told they're going to hell for being gay. Often these websites - along with free magazines like Boyz that I used to read in gay pubs - proliferate the stereotype of young gay people all being promiscuous clubbers with attitude. I didn’t just want to try to help people see that it was okay to be gay, but also that it was okay to be themselves.
BGIOK questions and answers
What is BGIOK all about? What does it do?
'Being gay is okay' offers Information and advice for gay, lesbian, bisexual and unsure under twenty-fives. BGIOK attempts to help people understand and feel better about their sexuality. I do this via the content that I've written, that deal with topics that most often affect young gay people, and through the problem page where I post and answer visitors emails on the site. I also offer links to other websites that might interest or help. The forum enables BGIOK visitors to make new friends and share their experiences.
How old is BGIOK?
I've been running it since 2000, with breaks for university and other reasons. Since its launch BGIOK has gone through changes and remakes as I've learned more about website and graphic design and about what visitors want from the site. It was most recently rebuilt in August 2010 to celebrate its 10-year anniversary.
How many people work on BGIOK?
How often does the website get updated?
Weekly or fortnightly, depending on other commitments, with smaller updates, changes and fixes being made in between. The problem page is the section most regularly updated as I receive lots of emails to it.
Does BGIOK make any money?
No. BGIOK is a nonprofit making website. I use donations (around £20 per year on average) and my own money to pay running costs (website hosting, domain name purchase, computer equipment and software). There are no advertisements anywhere on the website. The financial running of BGIOK may change in the future but you will never have to pay a penny to access all the content or use the forum. If you'd like to make a donation to help with BGIOK running costs, please use the PayPal donate button in the left side-bar. Thank you.
Do you provide information by post?
No. All the material I have created is available to see on the website. I don't have the funds to provide materials by post, but I in the future I might produce a downloadable PDF, with all the site's content, that readers could print off.
Why use cartoon graphics? Shouldn't you take people's problems seriously?
BGIOK isn't all about problems and it doesn't assume all visitors are having a tough time. I take people's problems very seriously, but I didn't think that was a reason to have a flat, formal or generic looking website. BGIOK was created to have a positive and welcoming tone. I think it's a website that stands out from the crowd.
Is BGIOK strictly for people under 25 years old? Will you help people who are older?
BGIOK is aimed at people under 25 because these younger years are often the most critical time in a gay person's life, with the most unanswered questions, new challenges and often a lack of support or the ability to seek it. But people older than 25 are not banned! I have, and still do, reply to problem page emails from people over 25, though these letters are less likely to appear on the website itself.
My name is Jason and this is my website. I'm a 35 year old, single gay chap, and I work as a graphic designer for a local company. I love graphic design and graduated in 2007 after a four-year degree course: MDes Graphic Communication. I was 28 when I went to uni, and before then I'd had a stint at being a chef and worked in IT support.
My interest in website design started when I was 22, and my first - very crude - website, Jason's Poetry Corner (don't laugh), went live soon after. BGIOK came online a few years later and became busy enough that it made sense to focus exclusively on it and close Poetry Corner.
BGIOK is now 10 years old and I most recently rebuilt and relaunched in August 2010. When I started out I used free graphics software and built the first pages in MS Frontpage 2000, without knowing a scrap of HTML.
As far as plans for the future go, I intend to invest time and energy into developing and promoting BGIOK. I have lots of ideas, so it's just a case of deciding which one I want to work on first. In life beyond BGIOK, I intend to carry on enjoying being creative, enjoying my job, learning new skills and seeing what life brings. I'd love to have someone special in my life, and remain hopeful on that front.
Facts: I'm vegan (I eat no animal derived ingredients) and I live by the sea.
Things I like: Video games, my PC, graphic and web design, the gym, cooking, horror films, reading.
Things I don't: Olives, not getting anything in the post, mindless consumerism, bigotry, Monday mornings, a selective attitude to animal cruelty.
BGIOK receives no funding, so all costs are met by myself. Please click the donate button to help with the running costs of BGIOK. Thank you, Jason.