Seventeen years ago, in what now seems like a lifetime ago, my debut column appeared here on Oasis. Back then this site was a 'zine updated monthly, and I wrote a column in thirty consecutive issues over two-and-a-half years, the January 2000 issue being my last.
In short, writing on here changed my life.
From the time my debut column was posted I was a bit of a controversy on here for a variety of reasons, from the topics I wrote about to the age I stated I was (thirteen). It seemed like every word I wrote was analyzed and critiqued, and dismissed by more than a few people. This didn't make me go away, it only made me want to write better.
I'll make a confession: I wasn't thirteen when I started writing on here. I had just turned twelve, and was a child prodigy with a genius level I.Q. I should have disclosed that in my first column, but I wanted more than anything to just be a normal kid.
I also had my supporters early on, and several of them because what I called my Inner Circle, online friends that I could trust and be more open with. In fact several of them would write on here, something that gave me an immense sense of pride. I don't think they knew this but those friends kept me going through some really rough times.
Over time I developed a worldwide following, and while there wasn't a provision at the time for private messages on this site my e-mail address was posted in my columns. At the peak I was sent several thousand e-mails a month, far more than I could personally respond to although I read every one. Some were scary, some funny, and others were from kids like me trying to understand their sexuality and cope with their lives. I even did a column about that (October 1999).
Each month I wrote about a variety of topics, some were funny, some quite serious. My column from October of 1998, "Veils Of Shame", was the first time I publicly discussed the sexual abuse I had endured as a little boy. It was the first of a seven part series I had written but never posted on here, and is now one of my biggest regrets.
As time went on I became more experimental, wrote shorter columns, and even went as far as to have my self interviewed (April-June 1999). I still can't believe I did that!
After the last part of that interview was posted, things changed for me both on here and in real life. I was increasingly critiqued for my more mature writing style, and in early December of 1999 my long time girlfriend Anna told me she was pregnant and could no longer hide the baby bump from her parents. That did not go well.
Anna was pregnant with twins, and in January of 2000, as my last column appeared on here, she gave birth to my sons. M.J. was a healthy baby, but his brother D.J. was stillborn. I'm still haunted my that.
Over time I though about coming back here, but it never felt right. My son would eventually discover this site thanks to finding the diary from my teen years, and he wrote on here as "Sam2000", making us possibly the only father/son contributors to this site.
It was at his urging that I write this, and with a great sadness as this site will soon be no more. This may be the only time I write here, or I may continue on until the end?
I have a glimmer of hope that Oasis can continue on, and will gladly offer some ideas for that if asked.