"I am totally gay."

Those are the matter-of-fact words from Tauranga 29-year-old Nathan Bramwell.

Mr Bramwell is the Bay of Plenty regional co-ordinator for RainbowYouth's newly-opened drop-in centre for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex youth in Tauranga.

The new drop-in centre at the Historic Village marked a first for the 29-year-old organisation, with the new centre said to be the first to open outside of Auckland.


The drop-in centre represents a culmination of RainbowYouth's work in the Bay of Plenty region beginning in 2014 with the creation of the peer-support group TaurangaPryde.

Mr Bramwell has worked over the past year to build connections with existing youth services and help equip the wider communities with tools to competently address the unique needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex youth.

"It is super-exciting seeing the youth in Tauranga being able to create a space of their own," said Bramwell.

"Not only is the space one where they can be social and have pride in their identities, it shows the support and welcome of the wider youth services and networks we have fostered, giving holistic empowerment and a sense of belonging back to the youth."

Mr Bramwell was 17 years old when he came out about being gay to his parents. "It was just after high school," he said.

He said coming out was hard as a student at a same-sex school.

"It was hard enough being a youth with exams and everything and you add sexuality on top of that," he said. "But I was lucky that I had the support of my family."

His friends were not so supportive, he said. "It still was not really talked about back then. I think it is naivety as well and not having enough information out there.

"It is about fear in being able to show we are just people."

Mr Bramwell said the new drop-in centre was a way to support young people in the same situation he was in as a teenager. "It is a place where your identity is not questioned."

Sixteen-year-old TaurangaPryde facilitator Kane MacFarlane hoped the opening of the new drop-in centre would help "the community to embrace us".

"It will also be a great place for schools and services to refer to if they have a questioning young person," he said.

"It will be a place young people can go and be themselves and make a community."

The new centre at Historic Village will be open during select weekdays for the public to drop-in for a safe space, as well as access to a range of resources, free Wi-Fi, information and tea and coffee.

For more information, visit www.ry.org.nz/tauranga