Apparently, there are many people who agree with me. Besides the fact that their facebook page now has over 315,000 members, and growing by leaps and bounds on a weekly basis, today their webpage added it's 6 millionth visitor!!! Six million, three hundred thousand people worldwide agree with me that Wipeout Homophobia on Facebook, it the community of change. The beauty of that is they are not wilting in the least from the pressure of such gaudy numbers. In fact, they crave more and celebrate each milestone. Why? Obvious answer: the higher the numbers, the more people who are being reached, the better the chances of helping people who really need help the most.
They are the trailblazers. Why? What's their lure? What is it that's constantly attracting tens of thousands of people to their page and website on a weekly basis? Simple answer: They reach out to everyone. Gays and straights alike, from around the world!, interact with their twin pages daily, contributing their own stories, sharing photos, or just offering support. It's become the premiere "go to" spot on facebook. That carries a lot of weight considering facebook boasts over 800,000,000 users.
Kevin "Kel" O'Neil, WHOF's creator started this on a lark, actually. In his own words:
" WHOF, all started on the 9th May 2010. During a search for a gay group I found two hate pages. They only had a few members , but all I could think was what if one of my family found this page and read the hate speech.That's called filling a void. It was the right idea at the right time, and people from every outpost on the globe have responded.
I sent links to the pages to some friends so they too could report them, they replied with links to others I thought that rather than 30 of us sending each other messages, I would collate the links on one Facebook page. An hour later there were hundreds of members and by the end of the day a thousand had joined, today there are over 310,000 members" Says Kevin,from Durham in the North east of England, who later created the website to accompany the facebook page in September of 2010.
Of course, not everyone in the world agrees with such a positive movement. Change frightens people. And, Kel gets the hate mail to prove it! Always one step ahead, he handles each piece of hate mail with the kind of wit and humor, yet very much to the point, that only he can do.
Another invaluable piece of the WHOF puzzle is the staff he has surrounded himself with. The Wipeout Homophobia on Facebook administration consists of such leaders as Lyndsay Winegarden (creator of STOP Teen Suicide) and Matt Desmond (creator and owner of AddictingInfo.com) What that means is that there's always someone knowledgeable and skilled manning the page in the event there's an emergency. That's a crucial component.
I think, for me, what impresses me the most is some of the letters of thanks they receive from people who were in a real bad place in their lives, or maybe a friend or family member was and, thanks to WHOF, they were able to make it through.
Ashlee Tai 07:53 AM on January 24, 2012
I wanted to share a story with you and other admin members to let you know how much of a positive impact you've made in my life and in the lives of many people that I know. I am a proud bi-sexual and have always been open and honest about it with family, friends and strangers. It has more often than not made me a target for homophobic taunts and physical attacks. But I believe that there is nothing in the world that will ever dictate how I should live and who I should love.
One of my dearest friends Lucas just recently accepted himself for who he is. A gay man. I couldn't have been more proud when he told me. However he was extremely scared because like myself he was raised in a devout Catholic family and was always taught that homosexuality was unnatural, perverted and going against the laws of God (However neither one of us actually believe in God). Because of his apprehension towards wanting to tell his family I told him I would be there to provide some much needed support.
It did not go well at all. His mother told him being gay was a disease and he was a threat to the institution of marriage. Then his dad packed his things and told him to get out of his house because as far as he was concerned Lucas was dead to him. Their abuse towards him continued right up until we pulled out of the driveway.Those stories get me every time. Each letter of survival validates the strong presence and tremendous work WHOF has on the Internet.
It made me angry that they could exhibit such hatred towards such a beautiful man, their only child.
I organised for him to live with my best friends family who happen to be straight Catholics that have nothing but love and support for the gay community. They have taken in many LGBT friends/acquantances of mine and have given them a home. Food to eat. Clothes on their backs. And compassion in the purest of forms.
And the one thing that I along with my friends family have encouraged them to turn to if we aren't there and they are feeling down, is your page.
You provide an incredible about of hope for the future. And in all honesty if it weren't for WHOF I don't think I'd have many of my LGBT friends still with me. I would like to thank you for saving lives because in my eyes that is what you've done and that is what you are doing.
Thank you so much for everything.
Congratulations, guys, on your 6,000,000th visitor and, more importantly, on a job very well done!