Outloud North Bay allowed to stay open despite stay-at-home order
NORTH BAY -- The 2SLGBTQ+ space Outloud North Bay, a hub aimed at supporting trans and queer youth, has been deemed essential by the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit and is allowed to stay open during the province-wide stay at home order.
The facility acts as a safe haven for all youth and holds different activities and events for kids in the community.
"I was so disappointed that we had to go into another lockdown and I wouldn't be able to come see my friends here," said 2SLGBTAQ+ ally Kassidey Parks.
Parks feared that the latest stay-at-home order would force Outloud North Bay to shut down.
Founder Seth Compton began advocating to the health unit that the facility should stay open to keep kids engaged with activities during the shutdown to help support mental health.
"Any organization that works with kids should be deemed essential," said Compton.
"We work really hard here at providing mental health services, shelter, and food."
Due to the large demand from families wanting to register their children, Compton quickly found that he needed a larger location.
"Our numbers tripled soon as COVID hit and when we were in the green" said Compton.
"Now that we see the kids, we see anywhere from 30-40 kids pop in throughout the day."
Compton said there are over 100 youth that are signed up.
Outloud North Bay started in an apartment-sized facility on Ferguson Street in March 2020.
That is, up until recently, Compton renovated a former 4,000 square foot nightclub, turning it into the new space.
"Everyone is treated equally here," said Parks. "It doesn't matter if you're a part of the 2LSGBTAQ+ community or not."
Growing up, Compton knew of the challenges that youth faced first hand and said in today's society, many children need a space like Outloud North Bay where they can be themselves.
"It's where friends meet," he said.
Outloud North Bay is working at becoming an official charity in a bid to support all of the youth it can.