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'We will applaud for you every day' | LGBTQ youth find safe space at the Landing Spot

Pastor Casey Tinnin founded the Landing Spot to give LGBTQ youth a place to feel seen and loved.

LOOMIS, Calif. — A thriving LGBTQ community might not be the first thing most people associate with Placer County, but one organization is looking to change that - one drag show at a time.

“The only thing closets are good for are clothes, not people,” said Casey Tinnin, the pastor at Loomis Basin Congregational United Church of Christ and the founder of the Landing Spot, a support group in Loomis for LGBTQ teenagers and their adult caregivers.

“We felt the need for a safe place for queer kids in our community. There are not a lot of safe places in Placer County for queer kids,” he added.

He said he started the Landing Spot because there was nothing like it for him when he was a young person.

“Every third Monday, young people get together. There’s also a parent group that meets, and so we have a licensed therapist who meets with the parents to help them sort of navigate their child coming out,” Tinnin said, regarding the Landing Spot meetings.

He said that, without community, queer youth are at risk.

“This is such a conservative area; I find there are a lot of kids who are at higher risk of suicide, depression,” Tinnin said.

In mid-April, the Landing Spot hosted a drag show for the first time since the pandemic began.

“What we’re trying to do at Landing Spot is create queer thriving, queer joy. Because there is a lot of joy. And if you were at the drag show, you would see. It was incredible. I mean we packed out the small McLaughlin Theatre, standing room only,” Tinnin said.

Drag queen Iris Omega was the host for the drag show.

“A lot of young queer people feel very alone and feel like they have no one they can relate to, and so I’m very honored that I have the opportunity to maybe be that person for somebody,” Omega said.

She said many people don’t realize drag provides community and family for many rejected by their own families.

“I am from the house of UV. It’s me (and) my two sisters Unieke and Serpentina. To me, they’re part of the reason why I am where I am today. I definitely would not be here without them, and I love and appreciate them so much for that,” Omega said.

Omega explained how she sees the Landing Spot.

“It really aims to get rid of that feeling that I had to go through as a youth. That most LGBTQ people had to go through as kids, of feeling alone and ostracized. It aims to give that feeling of community,” Omega said.

Tinnin also has a message for those who don’t think drag could possibly have much value.

“Drag actually is the most important thing that we could be doing for these kids right now - to create a house, a community, a family, where if your family does not love you, if your church community does not welcome you, then here at the Landing Spot, you are seen, known and loved. And we will applaud for you every day,” Tinnin said.

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