Welcome to Our Circle Youth Group of North County, San Diego. Our Circle, simply put, is a club where gay teenagers can physically go to meet other gay teenagers and hang out for a few hours. We are located in Oceanside, CA and meet every Thursday from 6pm - 8pm. The group is free, open to the public, and anyone between 16-24 may attend. If you are younger and would like to attend, that is generally not a problem as long as you have a ride. If you have any questions, feel free to call Nicole first (the head facilitator). Her cell number is the number listed in the "Contact Us" section.
Our Circle serves two general purposes:
1) Many LGBT teenagers and young adults don't have a link in to the gay community when they come out (they might know a few gay people at school but don't really have the needed information at their disposal to know how to navigate the gay community as a whole). Our Circle is that "link" for a lot of young people and the people providing that link are other very cool, grounded LGBT young people who can help you find your footing and give you the 411 on the places in the gay community to go.
2) Many gay teens who are in the closet, often live their whole school career having strait friends and living an outwardly strait lifestyle. Generally, people in this situation intend to deal with being gay once they graduate, they just don't want to deal with it while in high school. The problem is that now that time has rolled around and they want to make some gay friends but they don't have the foggiest idea of how to meet them. Once again, Our Circle is that "link" to help young people through the gate in a safe and fun setting, giving them the info that they're looking for about the community as a whole.
Our Circle has been an invaluable resource in this way for hundreds of members since its inception. That, probably more than any other reason, is why Our Circle has succeeded as much as it has. It's a type of support organization that is sorely in demand right now (we get hundreds of emails from LGBT teens all over the world asking if there are groups like ours in their city... sadly most of the time the answer is "no".) Currently, only people living close to Northern San Diego (Oceanside), CA, USA are able to attend.
If you would like to attend, driving directions can be found HERE. If you would like to know more about us, feel free to read on. Click the Activities button to learn more about what we do at our meetings.
Being gay in our society is not always easy, especially without support. Being a gay teen can be even more difficult. The fact is, there are still many misconceptions about what it means to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. As LGBT individuals, we have to deal with the pervasive belief that being straight is the only normal, natural, and moral way to be. This is called heterosexism. Heterosexism makes it difficult for many LGBT individuals to have a sense of safety and belonging and may make it difficult for some to be open, or "out" about who they are.
This can be especially difficult for teenagers and young adults in San Diego, who often feel very alone and isolated without support. Many young people feel they have to pretend to be something other than who they are - to wear a mask that matches social expectations. This is not only difficult, but can also have a steep cost in terms of physical and emotional health. The conflict that many LGBT boys and girls experience can lead to depression, anxiety, and hopelessness.
Isolation is often the only way that many gay teens feel they can overcome this anxiety. If you feel like you can’t be yourself, but don’t want to be accepted for being someone you’re not, many teenagers will simply withdraw in to isolation, sharing very little with family and loved ones.
This is quite often where the danger sets in. The more disconnected and isolated a teenager becomes, the more likely it is that they will come to a point when they conclude that the search for others who accept and embrace them is futile. Studies have shown that homosexual teens are over 5 times more likely to commit suicide then their heterosexual counterparts for this very reason.
This is where Our Circle comes in. We have a simple mission. We want only to provide the LGBTQ youth living in San Diego County with what they need the most to survive, the greatest and most powerful natural anti-depressant ever invented in the world: Peers. To simply be accepted and accept others in return is a tool of self-empowerment that goes to the core of humanity. We try to empower other teens to tap in to that core whenever they can while they visit with us - to support each other, and themselves.
Additionally, gay teenagers often have a hard time seeing themselves having a future if they are gay. This is possibly the most overwhelming aspect for many gay teens. We try to overcome that idea at Our Circle by providing teens with awareness about helpful resources and support programs such as scholarship opportunities and retreats that are just for LGBTQ youth.
In the end, our mission is simple: To allow teenagers to meet other teenagers who are like themselves, and better understand those who are not. To date we serve not only North San Diego County but the cities surrounding it including Alpine, Bonita, Bonsall, Borrego Springs, Carlsbad, Cardiff by the Sea, Chula Vista, Coronado, Del Mar, El Cajon, Encinitas, Escondido, Fallbrook, Imperial Beach, Jamul, Julian, La Mesa, Lakeside, Lemon Grove, National City, Oceanside, Pine Valley, Poway, Ramona, Rancho Santa Fe, San Diego, San Marcos, Santee, Solana Beach, Spring Valley, Valley Center, and Vista.
Our Circle - originally called "Circle of Friends" - was created by a woman named Diane Warner in March of 2001. Her original goal was to create a safe and positive support environment in San Diego County where LGBTQ youth could come together without having to meet in the glare of their local school – many of whom don’t have Gay Straight Alliances or support networks for gay youth.
Many teens who are questioning their sexuality are often hesitant to join their school GSA's for fear of being labeled "gay" among friends or classmates while all they want to do is find a safe place to associate with other gay bi and lesbian teenagers as they figure out who they are. Circle Of Friends offered an escape from that spot light and subsequent labeling. It offered a way to meet other teenagers and members of the San Diego gay community in a safe but positive moderated setting, away from the glare of family, friends, and classmates.
By 2004, the San Diego organization that Circle Of Friends was affiliated with closed its doors due to cutbacks.
The main drawback that was brought to light during the course of this event was that we had always depended on the funding of a parent organization in order to survive, and those organizations often had other equally important issues as their first priority with gay youth issues coming second. The result was that the money needed to “spread the word” of the group and provide the proper facilities and structure to receive contributions was often left lacking.
From the ashes of this important lesson arose our new group, "Our Circle", a collective group possessing the best qualities that Circle Of Friends and other successful youth groups brought to the table over the decades, while utilizing the lessons learned from our past struggles. Our Circle has a very simple goal: To create an organization with a similar support structure to the YMCA, except LGBTQ Youth is our primary patronage. We are not a satellite, we are the parent company. Every donation you make goes strait to the services we provide to the youth we serve.
That brings us to the number one lesson learned in our history. That lesson is the fact that donations truly are our life blood. Without them we can’t survive. This lesson is often learned the hard way with support organizations. We never squander our donations. Every dime that is brought in goes to the implementation of our goals. If you would like to know more about donating, please click HERE.