An LGBTQ+ community hub in North Bay has been helping families get through the latest province-wide lockdown by holding virtual events and chats.
Seth Compton, the founder of ‘OutLoud North Bay,' said that some of the club's members are scared of facing anxiety because they can't be together.
Jackson Pauls is a member and said that the club has changed his life. When Pauls came out as transgender, he didn't feel accepted. But, with the help of OutLoud North Bay, he felt like a whole new person.
"This space really helped me come out and accept myself. It really helped my social life because I have a lot of social anxiety, so it's hard," said Pauls. "It's not judgemental. It's a nice place to chill out. It's really safe here and it has that good feeling."
After learning about the community hub, Jackson and his mom signed him up so he could meet other youth his age who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community.
"The biggest thing for these kids is having other people that they can relate to and know that they understand where they're coming from," said Jackson’s mom Monique Pauls.
But, when OutLoud North Bay was forced to temporarily close its doors because of the province-wide lockdown, it meant Jackson and other youth wouldn't be able to see each other until January 9th.
"The kids expressed some anxiety about having the space closed for the lockdown,” said OutLoud North Bay Founder Seth Compton. “A lot kids miss the space and miss that interaction with the other kids."
Compton then came up with an idea: using social media, he started to organize virtual gatherings for families stuck at home: such as Christmas baking, crafts and music hoping to keep the youth engaged and take their mind off the lockdown.
"One of the things that we're doing is having a virtual chat at 7:30 on Facebook and we connect and in a group and just chat about our day,” explained Compton. “A bunch of kids tune in and adults tune in too."
Compton and the Pauls are hopeful OutLoud North Bay will be able to open up again soon. If the lockdown is extended, Compton says he plans to continue the virtual experiences.