Closet helps LGBT community come out
A community wardrobe in Auckland is literally helping people come out of the closet.
Rainbow Youth (RY) Aotearoa last month opened a free community wardrobe for Auckland’s queer and gender diverse people wanting to try on identity affirming clothes.
Clothing, shoes and accessories are available to try on in a non-judgemental environment and take home free of charge.
RY is a nationwide charity founded in 1989, with more than 300 members, that supports queer and gender diverse youth.
RY communications manager Toni Duder said clothing stores had clearly defined men’s and women’s sections.
‘‘For a gender diverse person, or transgender person, this can cause stress and anxiety because they may not fit into that binary split of men’s or women’s clothing or they might want to try on clothing typically seen as being worn by the opposite gender,’’ Duder said.
‘‘Retail workers often laugh at you, insult the clothes you pick out or refuse to serve you,’’ she said.
Duder said the community wardrobe was perfect for youth experimenting with gender expression.
‘‘They may want to dress up in more feminine or masculine clothing but cannot at home because their parents would find out.’’
RY member Max Odey identifies as gender fluid and prefers to be referred to as they or them, rather than he, him, she or her.
Identifying as gender fluid means they feel like a dynamic mix of female and male.
The community wardrobe helped with coming out to friends, Odey said.
‘‘I can come and pick up an outfit before I go and meet with friends without my mother knowing,’’ Odey said.
RY member Lindsay Dan said it was good to feel accepted somewhere.
‘‘I can try on clothes in a setting where I do not have to worry about which changing room to walk into or what people will say,’’ Dan said.
The community wardrobe is open weekdays from 11am to 5pm and is located at the RY drop-in centre at 11 Edinburgh St.
The RY drop-in centre also has a queer and trans library, couches, free Wi-Fi, snacks, quiet room, meeting room, staff room, gender neutral bathrooms and a television.
Rainbow Youth members Toni Duder and Madie Brownlee.