Being a gay teen used to be a situation of isolation. They couldn't tell anyone, were made to feel like they were totally wrong, and in the words of so many, they felt like they were the only one.

Then the internet connected people, who, before, were separated by geography and fear of being found out. It was the anonymity of the chat room in the mid 90's that first allowed many in the closet gay people to log on, put on an icon or avatar instead of their real identity, and test the waters of special interest chat rooms. What they found (as did a lot of other individuals from marginalized groups who felt totally alone) was a lot of people who were just like them.

Small town people who are part of a culture that makes some or most people in the mainstream uncomfortable, like gay teens, or gay people, soon found that they were going through the same thing as the small town person across the country, or across the globe.

This story from National Public Radio is powerful.