My name is Ezra Johnson, and my pronouns are he/him. I am the founder of Ezra’s Closet, which is a free gender-affirming clothing closet located in Rock County. I am a sub group within Janesville Pride, an LGBTQ+ nonprofit. I held my first pop-up event at Janesville Pride’s second annual Pride in the Park event on October 16, 2022.
Ezra’s Closet has been a dream of mine for the past five years. It started when I came out as transgender, and I finally wanted a wardrobe that matched my true identity. I had a closet full of feminine clothing which typically went untouched. I am disabled and live off of a very small budget, so I realized being able to switch my wardrobe was going to be a very slow process, even with utilizing thrift stores in my area.
One night, I had a dream that I had opened up a building full of donated clothes and individuals were able to come and grab new clothing for themselves without having to pay for them and that they could bring in their current wardrobe which would then add points to their accounts which they could then use to get new-to-them items. If they were not able to donate any clothes, they would still have access to get items for free.
Last summer, I brought this crazy idea to my fellow directors at Janesville Pride, and I was shocked when they said, “This is great. Go for it!” I was able to get everything set up and secured a few drop off locations throughout Rock County where the community can drop off donations:
1. Katie Myers State Farm Insurance Agent, 4465 Milton Ave., Janesville
2. 20 S. Main St., Ste. 21, Janesville
3. Family Promise, 416 College St., Beloit
Ezra’s Closet currently operates with pop-up events or when people contact me at my email. I’ve been trying to find funders, sponsors, or grants for an actual space. Since this is a free clothing closet, we would rely on donations, grants, and other funding to cover the cost of a space.
You can support this program by sharing information about Ezra’s Closet to groups, friends, and family; by donating clothes at drop-off sites; or by donating storage bins with lids, portable clothing racks, and portable shelves. Feel free to send me an email with any questions or suggestions at [email protected].
Besides Ezra’s Closet, I am graduating in May with my Human Services associates degree with plans on continuing my education. My long-term goal is to get my masters degree and become a licensed clinical social worker. However, I also want to create an LGBTQ-specific homeless shelter that focuses on supporting the whole person and have started to work out some of the details for that plan.