Our Space is a vibrant safe space for LGBTQIA+ youth ages 13-24 in Alameda and Marin County. For many young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and/or questioning, it can feel like no place is safe. LGBTQIA+ young people experience significantly higher rates of harassment and abuse – as well as poverty, homelessness, and involvement in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems – than their straight peers. Our Space provides that much-needed safe harbor where LGBTQIA+ youth can express their authentic selves and feel seen, accepted, and celebrated.
At its heart, Our Space is working to create a world where LGBTQIA+ youth are empowered to show fierce love for themselves and their community.
East Bay Services
As the only LGBTQIA+ provider in South Alameda County, Our Space serves over 400 queer and trans East Bay youth each year, with a focus on disconnected LGBTQIA+ youth in the foster system that are at high risk of further isolation and possible homelessness because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression (SOGIE). Approximately 75% of Our Space members are youth of color.
Comprehensive services for East Bay youth include:
- peer support groups in schools
- community-based mental health and case management
- intergenerational community building activities
- paid youth leadership opportunities,
- as well as a community center with drop-in hours and a gender affirming clothing closet and food pantry.
Our Space additionally partners with Side by Side’s YouThrive program to provide weekly virtual support groups for LGBTQIA+ students at College of Marin. Through the groups, College of Marin students can make new friends, learn something new, and connect with other queer, trans, nonbinary, and intersex folks on campus. Skilled facilitators also lead discussions about college life, healthy relationships, chosen family, and building community. Sign up for the groups here.
Bay Area Services
Our Space also offers specialized support services for adult caregivers and families, as well as trainings for providers from schools, clinics, and other service providers working with LGBTQIA+ youth. The workshops for professionals deepen their understanding of LGBTQIA+ youth challenges and increase their effectiveness in addressing those issues.
To learn more about Our Space or engage with our community:
- Watch a video produced by Our Space about their annual youth-driven cabaret performance.
- Connect with Our Space on Facebook or Instagram
- Download BeFIERCE: A Toolkit for Working with LGBTQ Youth
Side by Side gratefully acknowledges Bay Area Physicians for Human Rights, Horizons Foundation, Kaiser Permanente – Southern Alameda, Sandia National Laboratories, Sharks Foundation, Sutter Bay Hospitals/Eden Medical Center, and the Youth Acceptance Collaborative for supporting Our Space.
The story of Side by Side comes to life through letters between youth and providers in four programs: the Irene M. Hunt School, Our Space, TAY Space, and Real Alternatives.
Video credit: Andrew Hida.