Who We Are
Open Closet is a social support group for LGBT2Q+ (lesbian, gay, bi, trans, 2-spirit, queer) youth between 14 and 18 years of age. The group started in early 2002 and has served more than 1,100 youth since its inception. OC is open to youth from each of the six counties RHAC serves - Perth, Huron, Lambton, Elgin, Middlesex and Oxford.
The group includes discussions related to coming out, queer identities, LGBT2Q+ histories, survival strategies, safer sex and healthy relationships. We also bring in guest speakers, do arts-based activities, and provide information about HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), harm reduction, and community services/resources according to participants’ individual needs.
Goals of Open Closet
- To provide a welcoming and supportive space for LGBT2Q+ youth to connect, engage, share and support
- To foster LGBT2Q+ youth empowerment through strengths-based activities, skills/capacity-building opportunities, leadership development, education and community engagement
- To honour the resilience, creativity and potential of LGBT2Q+ youth as leaders, change-makers, and members of the broader community
Stories of Success
Open Closet has several success stories to share including the story of “X” who initially came to us lost and frustrated about his transgender identity. X would often speak about the challenging conversations he was having with his parents and how little support he was getting from them. Now, with the support of Open Closet, X is considered a group mentor. He freely shares his story whenever asked. OC youth look up to him and respect his ideas. X now enjoys sharing stories about how his parents have grown to learn who he really is and to love him for it.
In the spring of 2010, Open Closet received an “Honourable Mention for a Group” from www.youthline.ca. Youthline is a toll-free service provided by youth for youth that offers support, information and referrals specific to youth concerns. Youthline felt so strongly that OC is an effective program run for youth in the greater southwestern Ontario region that it developed a brand new award category specifically to honour the Open Closet program.
In 2014, Open Closet received the 2014 London Diversity, Race Relations and Inclusivity Award for youth-oriented programming in recognition of the program’s role in supporting local LGBT2Q+ youth to live the values of acceptance and inclusion.
How to contact Open Closet
We accept local referrals from friends, family members, community organizations/groups and/or schools.
Open Closet usually runs every Friday night from 7-9 p.m., with occasional cancellations due to inclement weather or other emergent situations. Questions? Call us between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday-Friday or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
From London call 519-434-1601, or from any of the six counties we serve - Perth, Huron, Lambton, Elgin, Middlesex and Oxford - call toll free 1-866-920-1601.
Open Closet (OC) gratefully acknowledges the financial support of Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at The University of Western Ontario. Funds have been raised over the years through Tachycardia (or “Tachy” for short), an annual theatrical production by medical students from Schulich.
OC also wishes to extend its gratitude to TD Bank Group, including their London and area LGBTA Committee and Employees, for their long-term financial support through various TD Bank Group Corporate Donations and third party (employee) fundraisers.
We are thankful for the opportunity to enhance programming for OC through the Johansen-Larsen Foundation supported Empowering LGBTQ2+ Youth through Safer Spaces, Connectivity, Education, and Personal and Professional Development project.
OC is greatly appreciative of Libro Credit Union’s support in enriching OC programming through the Empowering LGBTQ2+ Youth: Safe Spaces, Leadership, Career Skill Development, and Financial Literacy project.
The generosity of our donors not only allows us to keep OC running, it provides us the opportunity to enhance programming, provide additional resources and tools for youth to realize their full potential, and to develop their skills and abilities in innovative, motivating, and stimulating ways. The OC program, would not exist without the generosity of these community partners and we are extremely grateful and appreciative of their willingness to assist us in empowering and safeguarding diverse youth in our community.