Ellis Robert-Wright, or �El,� is making sure that nobody feels lonely on the holidays, regardless of who they love. The 21-year-old transgender man from Axminster, Devon in England has been sending Christmas and birthday cards to LGBT+ people for over five years.
El started the Rainbow Cards Project after falling ill with Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), a disease that has left El bedridden and unable to do basic things, like brushing your teeth or even holding a conversation.
Once El felt a little better, El started writing and sending cards to people that had been rejected by their families for coming out as LGBT+.
After posting a simple tweet offering to send cards to people who no longer got them from their families, El sent 30 Christmas cards to 9 different countries � and the Rainbow Cards Project was born.
The project has grown each year. El says they�ve sent over 4,000 cards last year to people in 35 different countries, with ages ranging from 13 to 50.
“The majority are in America but some are in countries where it�s illegal to be gay,� El told DevonLive. “There�s a lot of people from religious backgrounds, a lot of people from the bible belt. There are also quite a lot in Britain.�
El hopes the people who are on the receiving end of the letters know they aren�t suffering alone, and that other people understand and care. El says the LGBT+ community was very welcoming and played an important role in helping him embrace a new identity. With the Rainbow Cards Project, El is simply returning the favor.
�Now that I am out and have come to a place of self-acceptance, and I am privileged enough to be in a situation where that is possible, I wish to do all that I can to help those who are facing prejudice and isolation because of who they are,� El writes on the organization�s website.
�After all,� El continued. �The LGBTQ+ community in itself is a family, so why not make it the kind of family that remembers each other’s birthdays and exchanges Christmas cards?�
While a worsening case of ME has caused El to slow down and not write as many cards this year, others in the community have stepped up to keep the project going. Volunteers play a big role in writing the cards, and El�s friend Rosie (pictured below), who is also disabled and queer, has signed on to help process cards and maintain the project�s social media pages.
As for the reactions of people who get the cards, El says that�s what it’s all about.
“There are a lot of people who say �this is the only card I�ve gotten,�� El said. �I�ve had so many people tell me they cried when they got it. A couple of people said it saved their lives because they felt so isolated.�
It just goes to show that a little bit of kindness can go a really long way.
There are many ways to get involved with the Rainbow Cards Project:
- You can sign up to be a card writer to offer solidarity and help spread kindness.
- You can donate money or supplies to help keep the project going.
- If you�ve stopped getting cards from your family, you can sign up to be a recipient.
- Spread the word about the project by sharing their social links.