Rooms, for those in the closet

Many will promote Rooms as a forums app for people with similar interests to post notes, photos, and videos. There will be rooms for family vacation photos, rooms for teen party selfies, and rooms for after-work pub crawls. But at the same time, I think those are only some of the potential use cases for Rooms. When I think about other possible ways to use Rooms, I see Rooms as an opportunity for something greater. I see Rooms as a platform that will support many more use cases, some of which we, as the creators and designers of this product, did not have in mind when building the app.

A few months ago, the Rooms team product manager, Josh Miller, went over one of his slide decks with us. In the presentation, he detailed sample use cases for Rooms. While people can share videos of jaw-dropping tricks performed on a Japanese kendama toy, listen to clips of rad synthesizer licks, and discuss breath-taking tango routines, the part that both surprised me and piqued my interest was a description of how transgender youth could use this app to support each other while maintaining separate identities from their offline selves.

A few years ago, I wrote a short piece about how, while coming to terms with my sexuality, I was able to use Twitter to talk to teenagers from around the world who had gone through similar experiences. “It allowed me to be truly honest about my feelings without fear of being judged,” I wrote. This experience was so transformative that I wanted to help others find a similar support network of anonymous peers. I wanted to create an online environment that would let students chat anonymously with the freedom to speak unfiltered. Such an environment would provide its users a safe place by allowing them to initiate threads anonymously.

This sounds like a lofty goal — because it is — but it is one that would help so many people out there. However, young as I was and only trying to impress college admissions officers, I never planned to follow through. (It did make for a good college application essay, though.) Now, as we prepare to launch Rooms, I’m glad to see that I’m finally having the impact I always wanted to have. We allow our users to use different names, but I think the app will enable people to be their true authentic selves.

Rooms is for everyone; I hope you enjoy it. Get your hands on it here.