wayOUT / Celebrating YOU

wayOUT partners with local LGBTQ+ organizations who empower and support gender expansive youth to be themselves.

wayOUT is a non-profit organization focused on empowering gender expansive youth by investing in centers in their local communities. Their mission is to advance programs that support LGBTQ+ youth in places where society tells them it’s not okay to be who they really are.

Across 4 chapters (NYC, LA, Bay Area, and Seattle), wayOUT works to identify local groups working in LGBTQ+ spaces to receive seasonal grants while connecting like-minded partners to inspire even greater impact. The most recent recipients of wayOUT’s grant program are Choosing our Roots (Alaska), We Are Family (Charleston, South Carolina), Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition (Mississippi), and Coastal Bend Pride Center (Texas Coastal Bend).

Letter from wayOUT:

When we launched wayOUT in 2016, our goal was simple: to help LGBTQ+ youth however we could. We recognized that we didn’t have the expertise to work directly with youth, so we began to reflect on other resources that we could offer. Ultimately, we kept coming back to this idea of community. We realized that we were incredibly fortunate to live and work in communities that were full of affirming spaces, affirming people, and room to live as our most authentic selves. 

With this idea in mind, the path forward for wayOUT was clear: we would leverage our communities and networks to invest in affirming spaces in places where local restrictions and mindsets limited access to resources. We would gather our communities to send a clear message of love and support to queer youth in the United States.

Through a one-to-one model, wayOUT has opened four local chapters in New York City, the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Seattle that partner with LGBTQ+ youth centers and programs across the country each year. Through our partnerships we listen, learn, connect, and fundraise for these life-saving organizations and the youth that they serve. 

As we fundraise each year, we are reminded of the power of three key heroes. The first of these is our communities—the incredible people, companies, and organizations who support us whether they be our friends, family, colleagues, employers, or strangers. LGBTQ+ or allied. wayOUT would not exist without their generous contributions. The second heroes that we interact with are our partner organizations. These programs empower LGBTQ+ youth to be their authentic selves through counseling, housing, employment programs, medical services, food banks, and so much more. The folks at these organizations work with youth every day and help build stronger, safer, more loving environments in their communities. And finally, the biggest heroes we see are the youth. The brave young people who fight to stand in their truth as their most authentic selves. These kids are the reason wayOUT exists. We watch these folks proclaim to themselves and their communities, “We are here. We are Queer.” And from us at wayOUT, we respond by acknowledging that we see you, we hear you, we love you, and we believe in you.

To our communities, our partners, and to LGBTQ+ youth that inspire us everyday, thank you. Working with the over 5,000 individual donors, 14 LGBTQ+ youth programs, and over 4,000 young people has been wayOUT’s honor for the last five years. As we look ahead to the next five years, we invite you to join us to continue to spread our mission. We are committed to growing the impact of this organization and continuing to bring communities together to empower LGBTQ+ youth to feel safe being who they really are. 

Here. Queer.

wayOUT’s incredible network consists of over five thousand individual donors, raising over $750,000 since 2016. By 2022, they aim to invest $1m in 10 life-saving projects across 10 cities and host a national conference for LGBTQ+ leaders.

Through August and September, Ilegal is raising funds for wayOUT and the amazing work that they do. As a call to raise awareness as well as honor & showcase resilience, joy, and spirit in the queer community, we created a special cocktail, ‘Celebrating YOU’ with Ilegal Mezcal. The bright, refreshing drink—made with berries and citrus—is on menus at participating bars and restaurants across the country. Part of the cocktail sales from each of these locations will be donated to wayOUT. Our fundraising goal this year is $20,000!

Find a location near you

Ilegal is also throwing Celebrating YOU fundraising events in New York, Dallas, and Los Angeles. Learn more