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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. Their generous financial contribution is allowing us to keep OC running.
Who We Are
Open Closet is a social support group for youth between 14 and 18 years of age who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, two-spirited, queer and questioning their sexual orientation (LGBT2Q). The group started in early 2002 and has served approximately 1,100 youth. OC is open to youth from each of the six counties we serve - Perth, Huron, Lambton, Elgin, Middlesex and Oxford.
The group learns and has discussions about issues such as coming out to parents and friends, queer identities, LGBT2Q history, survival strategies, accessing community, safer sex and healthy and unhealthy relationships.
We also provide access to information about HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and provide referrals to community services and resources according to individual needs.
Goals of Open Closet
- Create a safe space for youth to participate in discussions and receive support while dealing with matters related to sexual orientation/identity.
- Offer an opportunity for youth to connect with one another as a community.
- Engage in semi-structured activities that promote self-awareness, respect, self-esteem and self-confidence.
- Educate youth about the impact of internalized homophobia, hate of self and others.
- Recognize the need for connection, alliances and pride for a healthy self-concept.
- Identify facets that comprise healthy LGBT2Q relationships within the context of an oppressive social environment.
- Support, share, learn and listen to other “coming out” stories”.
- Practice communication skills - how to share thoughts and feelings in ways that promote connections.
- Dialogue about relevant socials issues that pertain to and define the greater LGBT2Q 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.
START Guide Information
Regional HIV/AIDS Connection is annually audited by the START Monitoring Body to ensure we are operating in accordance with defined community service standards for youth serving organizations. START is an acronym that stands for;
Street and vulnerable youth service standards that provide:
To ensure consistent support for youth
How to contact Open Closet
We accept local referrals from friends, family or schools.
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.
YOU Youth Action Centre is a supporter of and contributor to the Open Closet group.