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We like to imagine that we live in progressive times - that issues like homophobia are relics of a distant past. However, the sad truth is there are large numbers of people in the LGBTQ+ community who will spend the festive period alone after being disowned by their families.
Realising there would be so many people feeling isolated and lonely at Christmas, El Roberts-Wright sent out a tweet on the run-up to the big day saying she would like to send a Christmas card to people in the LGBTQ+ community who no longer received any from their own families since coming out.
In Christmas 2016 El sent out 30 cards to people in nine different countries around the world.
She told PinkNews she'd got the idea after coming out to her own family, and contemplating the idea that she might no longer have had any family to enjoy the season with.
She said: "It really struck me how drastically different Christmas would feel if I didn't have family to celebrate with, and how lonely and upsetting that would be.
"I wanted to do what I could to support any LGBTQ+ people who might be in that situation, and hopefully reaffirm to them that the LGBTQ+ community is a family in itself."
In 2017 she set up The Rainbow Cards Project (TRCP), with the simple aim to combat isolation in the LGBTQ+ community 'through simple acts of kindness' and helping to remind people 'that they are loved and not alone'.
She said: "I know I can never replace someone's relatives, but I can reach out with a little kindness and help them feel like a part of a bigger family.
"I hope each card someone receives helps prove to the recipient that they are loved and they see that someone out there cares enough to write to them, and that in turn lessens the isolation they feel and helps them feel proud of who they are."
Since it launched, TRCP has sent out over 4,300 cards, with over half of those being Christmas cards sent out in 2017 - everyone who signs up to the website will receive a card.
El hopes to highlight the growing issue of isolation among the LGBTQ+ community and she says many people have been made aware of the issue because of her work with TRCP.
"I've had many cisgender, heterosexual people say to me, 'Wow, I never even considered what it would be like to not receive cards from your family because they've cut you off,'" she added.
"I think just hearing about what this project does is making people aware of one of the many struggles faced by the LGBTQ+ community."
She says that the project doesn't just raise awareness but addresses it in a 'tangible way' - it offers a kind of physical support as well as emotional support and reminds people they are not alone.
Featured Image Credit: Instagram/The Rainbow Cards Project
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