After just six months of operation, OutLoud North Bay is on the move.
The safe space for 2SLGBTQ+ youth will be moving from its initial location on Ferguson Street to the old Summit nightclub location next month.
Seth Compton, the founder of OutLoud, says new property owners have taken over the location and are asking him to leave unless he takes over more space in the building.
“I’m a big believer in everything happens for a reason,” said Compton, who had already begun raising money for a new location.
OutLoud has been closed for the duration of the lockdown, with Compton still running virtual sessions with some members.
Compton says once the region reopens, he wants to hit the ground running.
“I can’t afford to lose any more time for the kids, so I need to make this a smooth transition from one place to another without any downtime. They’ve already been locked up long enough,” he said.
When Compton leased out the Ferguson Street location last March, Geoff and Tom Richardson owned the building at the time.
Now that OutLoud is being forced to move, the Richardsons again stepped up, offering the space from the closed-down nightclub.
“I guess you could call it a silver lining in this awful pandemic,” noted Geoff Richardson, who owns the Voyager hotel.
Richardson says he and his brother have been happy to work with Compton since the inception of OutLoud last year.
“Tom and I have always been community-minded,” he said. “We’re always happy to be a part of it. Anything we can do to support something like that is something that we’re into.”
Compton says the new location will be between five to seven times bigger than his current spot, which will be helpful considering OutLoud has significantly grown in its short life.
“When I think about what I’m doing, I know there’s definitely a need for it. We’ve tripled in size so I know it’s a need,” he explained. “It doesn’t matter where we go, we’re still going to create that environment for (the kids). We need more space so we can support more kids.”
Compton has largely funded OutLoud through his own means, whether it was his own money or creating community connections to provide additional support for his vision. He is waiting for approval for OutLoud to be a registered charity, which he says will help bring in more support.
Until then, Compton says he is grateful to the Richardsons for helping him out.
“They believe in what I’m doing and they want to be able to help out in any way they can,” he said.
For the Richardsons, Geoff says they’re happy just to be making a difference in the community.
“It’s not always about the business relationship, it’s about contributing to the overall community,” he said. “Historically marginalized folks need an extra hand from people to help at all times.”
Compton says he’s already heard from contractors willing to work with OutLoud to transform the new space, which he hopes to be able to begin working on whenever the region’s lockdown ends.