BAGLY Celebrates Youth Pride in Boston
On May 18, the Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Youth will celebrate its 16th annual Massachusetts Youth Pride, an event galvanized by LGBT youth as their own day to celebrate their identities and place in life. Up to 5,000 youths come out each year to enjoy the daylong celebration, which includes a march, rally, entertainment and a youth prom.
From the western-most region of Massachusetts and surrounding New England states, youth will flock to the Parkman Bandstand on Boston Common at 10 a.m., said Jessica Flaherty, programs coordinator of the Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Youth (BAGLY). The youth-led organization, and a long-term partner in Youth Pride, is stepping up its role as a co-organizer of this year’s event.
"This is the first year we’ve taken an organizing role, along with the Friends of LGBT Youth and the Boston Pride organization," Flaherty told EDGE. "The work we are doing specifically is organizing a statewide process for youth involvement in the march, the rally and the stage show, bringing in performers from across the state. And we’ve a hired a young person, Logan Ferrero, to coordinate all of that."
The rally will commence at 11 a.m., with the march stepping off at noon. Following these events will be a full schedule of entertainment from 1-4 p.m., including the Hispanic Gay Black Coalition’s Choir, Vision; drag queen Kaiomy Everz; drag king Valentino; folk artist Allison Francis; poet Lenelle Moise; the band Alone at the Opera; hip-hop dance troupe Phunk Snap; and Asian women’s performance troupe Genki Spark.
"We also have the usual speakers from the State House and members of the legislature who are supportive of the event, historically big supporters over the years," added Flaherty.
Following the day’s festivities, the 33rd annual BAGLY Youth Prom will be held from 7-11 p.m. at Boston City Hall, the venue Flaherty proudly acknowledged as being donated by Mayor Michael Menino for more than a decade. While the prom does require a $15 entrance fee, Flaherty said all of those who take a free HIV test at the Pride event, or at BAGLY’s Clinic @620 any day prior to the prom, will also be given free admission to the prom.
BAGLY’s approach and practices as a youth-led, adult-supported community organization since 1980, of which has served more than 30,000 youth, are replicated by programs and organizations across the country and its own earliest programs.
Today, BAGLY offers programs in leadership development, health promotion, networking and social services. It is also the founding organization of the National Youth Advocacy Coalition and the Massachusetts Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth.
As is customary with all of BAGLY’s programs and events, all participants of BAGLY’s programs and events are expected to refrain from engaging in sex, violence, pressure and harassment, and from drugs, alcohol or weapons.
But as indicated on the BAGLY website, "members create opportunities to talk freely about sex, drugs and alcohol, ask questions, connect with appropriate referrals and participate in programming which specifically addresses the gaps left by heterosexist/gender-normative educational frameworks."
Although BAGLY specifically works with queer and transgender youth, allies are welcome. They also offer health-related services to those ages 29 and under, and leadership development to those ages 24 and under.
For members 22 and younger, a weekly meeting is offered covering specific topics relevant to the needs of LGBTQ youth. "Depending on the night and what’s going on determines how many youth show to the weekly meeting, but we’ve seen between 50 and 120 in attendance," Flaherty told EDGE.
Flaherty, a former youth member of BAGLY, said that many members move into leadership roles, which is the core of the organization’s operation. "I came out at 17 and found myself in need of the services that BAGLY offers. That is primarily what we see at BAGLY -- youth that are in need of the most amount of support, so we help them at defining intersections that their identity has put them in."
To learn more about BAGLY, visit the website bagly.org. For more information on Massachusetts Youth Pride, go to bostonpride.org/youthpride.