bagly, inc.

What We Are

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At BAGLY, we believe...

In creating safe space… In BAGLY’s values: Respect, Diversity, Social Justice, Youth Leadership…In feeling safe… In having fun… In equal access to public accommodations, employment, and credit for transgender and gender variant people… In building a strong, youth-led social justice community… In conflict resolution…In change… In healthy relationships… In being sex positive… In sexual freedom… In health education… In being yourself… In being fabulous… In girls with curves… In adult support… In condoms… In love… In educational freedom… In safer sex… In harm reduction… In peace… In feeling like you matter… and In personal growth…

Oh yeah, and also...

That challenging oppression and dominant culture supremacy is a good thing… That language has diversity… That BAGLY is a family… That queer and trans youth need space to be themselves… That it is important to always strive to be positive space for all queer and trans youth and remain open to suggestions for improvement… That providing learning and skills development opportunities actualizes youth leadership potential… That youth are capable of defining and making positive decisions for themselves… That youth matter and should be appreciated… and That youth make a difference everyday.

 

BAGLY History

BAGLY: The Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth, is a youth-led, adult-supported social support organization, committed to social justice and creating, sustaining, and advocating for programs, policies, and services for the LGBTQ youth community. 

In July of 1980, long before the days of community, political, or financial support, BAGLY was founded by LGBTQ youth who believed that an organization led by and for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth would be central to meeting the core physical, social, and developmental needs of Greater Boston’s LGBTQ youth community. Turns out they were right!  Three generations of queer youth movement leaders later, BAGLY is recognized nationally for its pioneering role in creating, sustaining, and advocating for social support, leadership development, and health promotion programs for LGBTQ youth.  BAGLY’s approach and historic practice, which has served over 30,000 youth, is replicated by programs and organizations across the country and our earliest programs (Including our Youth Speakers Bureau, youth-led HIV/AIDS education, and the nation’s first prom for LGBTQ youth) have provided a foundation upon which many youth-led programs and organizations are built.

Throughout its history BAGLY has advocated and provided leadership for an LGBTQ community-driven statewide and national systems-based approach to working with LGBTQ youth.  As a founding organization of the National Youth Advocacy Coalition and the Massachusetts Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, and by establishing the GLBT Youth Group Network of Massachusetts, our vision and innovation has led the way in building a stable local and national infrastructure vital to today’s LGBTQ youth work.

Today, BAGLY provides community-based leadership development, health promotion, and social support programs for Massachusetts LGBTQ youth communities, and is a leader in local and national LGBTQ youth advocacy and workforce development.

 

Queer Youth Movement Timeline

Year Description
1969 Before the Stonewall riots, Gay Youth New York is founded to combat the oppression of gay youth. Their slogan is “Youth Organized, Youth Run.”  A few years later chapters were founded in Worcester and in Boston, Hosted by the adult run Homophile Union of Boston (HUB).  Over the next decade, the organization evolves into Gay and Lesbian Youth of New York (GLYNY).  
1974 The Youth Advocacy Commission of Treatment Alternatives to Street Crime awards the Charles St. Meetinghouse in Boston a $52,371 grant for a Gay Youth Advocacy program the first government funding in the nation directed at youth who are LGBTQ or questioning their sexual/gender identity. The program is later named Project Lambda.
1975 LGBTQ youth build community and social support opportunities for themselves all over Boston; at the Charles St. Meetinghouse, the Sword and Stone Coffee House on Charles Street and Ken’s Restaurant on Boylston Street in Copley Square.
1975 The Advocate publishes an article about Boston’s Project Lambda.
1975 Project Lambda begins programming focused on diverting street crime by providing underage LGBTQ runaways and sex workers access to youth advocates, referrals to basic services, and a safe space to socialize with other LGBTQ youth.  The group meets at the Charles Street Unitarian Universalist Church. Young adult staff includes Larry Anderson, Stephanie Byrd, Brian Goodrich, Linda Graham, Ian Johnson, Lynn Rosen, and Ted Sanger. The group ends in 1976 after losing funding from the City.
1977 Bridge Over Troubled Waters is the only city agency to provide services to LGBTQ youth. They work with issues of housing, medical and dental, suicide prevention, sex work, and addiction for youth who were often homeless because of their sexual and/or gender identity.
1977 Four gay youth file a formal complaint against police officers for brutality. The youth claim the beating occurred after they attempted to stop the beating of another gay man by the undercover police officers.
1977 The Committee for Gay Youth (CGY) is founded to revive Project Lambda as a “watchdog for the needs of the often neglected Boston gay youth,” and to provide a place for LGBTQ youth and young adults to meet as an alternative to bars. The group meets at the Arlington St. Church. Stephanie Byrd, Lynn Rosen and Eric Rofes are among the founding adult board members.  George Smith is appointed as the youth liaison to the adult-run group.
1977 A group for lesbian teenagers meets at Janus Counseling to discuss “personal growth and support.”
1977 Local lesbian bar Somewhere, owned by Ann Maguire, sponsors a series of spaghetti dinners raising $1,500 to benefit CGY.
1978 Growing Up Gay is published by Youth Liberation Press in Ann Arbor Michigan. The publication includes an article entitled, “Lack of Support from Adult Gays Makes Life Difficult in Boston.” Interviews with CGY members are featured. The youth interviewed criticize Boston’s adult gay community’s focus on issues such as Anita Bryant and Susan Saxe, and their lack of support for local LGBTQ youth.
1978 Growing Up Gay is published by Youth Liberation Press in Ann Arbor Michigan. The publication includes an article entitled, “Lack of Support from Adult Gays Makes Life Difficult in Boston.” Interviews with CGY members are featured. The youth interviewed criticize Boston’s adult gay community’s focus on issues such as Anita Bryant and Susan Saxe, and their lack of support for local LGBTQ youth.
1979 CGY leaves Arlington Street Church and begins to meet at the office of GAMIT, the MIT gay student group.
1979 The Committee for Gay Youth (CGY) marches in Boston’s Gay and Lesbian Pride celebration and attends the National March on Washington.
1980 Youth members voice their frustration with the adult leadership and board of the Committee for Gay Youth.  Encouraged by Robin McCormack, manager of Buddies bar and first City of Boston Mayor’s Liaison to the LGBTQ Community, CGY members hold an auction sponsored by gay business and friends that raises $1,300. With this and other youth sponsored fundraisers the youth rent office space at 128a Tremont Street and form their own 22 and under youth-led group called the Boston Alliance of Gay and Lesbian Youth (BAGLY). It is the first LGBTQ youth run organization in Massachusetts. BAGLY (renamed the Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth) continues today as the oldest continuously running, independent LGBTQ youth organization in the country.
1980 BAGLY launches the first LGBTQ youth speakers bureau in the country. BAGLY’s members were among the first pioneering LGBTQ individuals to speak in public schools.  The BAGLY Speakers Bureau is the organizations oldest and longest running program.
1981 The City of Boston refuses to grant a permit for the annual Pride day march. BAGLY suspends Wednesday night programming to host a special meeting of local LGBTQ activists to organize a community response.  The community was successful in overturning the decision and the pride march went ahead as planned.
1981 BAGLY establishes the nation’s first annual LGBTQ youth prom.  The prom, organized by youth member Michael Pumphret (who was crowned BAGLY’s first prom queen), was held in the basement of the Arlington Street Church.
1980 BAGLY launches the first LGBTQ youth speakers bureau in the country. BAGLY’s members were among the first pioneering LGBTQ individuals to speak in public schools.  The BAGLY Speakers Bureau is the organizations oldest and longest running program.
1981 BAGLY responds to news of “Gay Cancer” by convening education and advocacy forums led by youth with support from Kevin Cranston, then adult adviser at BAGLY – currently Deputy Commissioner and Director of the Bureau of Infections Disease at Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
1982 WGBH-TV airs groundbreaking public television documentary Growing Up Gay, focusing on BAGLY and LGBTQ youth. Art Cohen is director, producer, and writer of this program.
1982 No longer able to afford the rent, BAGLY moves from their Tremont St. office and for months holds it’s weekly Wednesday night meetings in restaurants, members apartments and the Boston University LGBTQ Student Group space before finally finding space at St. John the Evangelist Church on Bowdoin Street where they stayed for 25 years.
1984 No longer able to afford the rent, BAGLY moves from their Tremont St. office and for months holds it’s weekly Wednesday night meetings in restaurants, members apartments and the Boston University LGBTQ Student Group space before finally finding space at St. John the Evangelist Church on Bowdoin Street where they stayed for 25 years.
1987 Virginia Uribe, founder of Project 10 in Los Angeles, speaks at Harvard University in an event sponsored by BAGLY – A year later a BAGLY member who attended this event, co-founds Project 10 East at his high school, Cambridge Rindge and Latin
1988 Massachusetts leads the way in providing high school-based support for LGBTQ youth with the establishment of Project 10 East at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School and Concord-Carlisle High School’s Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA)
1988 BAGLY co-presents a workshop on transgender community issues at the National Gay and Lesbian Health Conference in Boston, MA.
1991 BAGLY is chosen as Massachusetts’s first LGBTQ youth program to participate in Protect Teen Health, the pioneering peer leadership HIV/AIDS and safer sex education program
1987 Virginia Uribe, founder of Project 10 in Los Angeles, speaks at Harvard University in an event sponsored by BAGLY – A year later a BAGLY member who attended this event, co-founds Project 10 East at his high school, Cambridge Rindge and Latin
1992 BAGLY convenes the first meeting of Massachusetts LGBTQ youth groups in order to develop a community based support and resource infrastructure for LGBTQ youth across the state – later called the GLBT Youth Group Network of Massachusetts
1992 The first Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth in the country is founded in Massachusetts to address issues such as LGBTQ youth suicide, high school dropouts, homelessness and drug use. BAGLY youth testify at the first ever public hearings on LGBTQ youth
1993 Youth President of BAGLY, Troix Bettencourt, speaks at the 3rd national March on Washington
1993 BAGLY youth and adult leaders are among the founders of the National Advocacy Coalition on Youth and Sexual Orientation – NACYSO (later renamed the National Youth Advocacy Coalition – NYAC)
1993 The first transgender youth support group in Massachusetts was convened at BAGLY
1994 BAGLY leaders present workshop on LGBTQ youth health at the National Gay and Lesbian Health Conference
1994 BAGLY Executive Director, Grace Sterling Stowell, briefs top CDC officials on the needs of transgender youth – believed to be the first time transgender issues of any kind were brought before the Centers for Disease Control
1995 State funding is awarded to BAGLY to support its statewide programming, the GLBT Youth Group Network of Massachusetts
1996 A Slice of Rice, a support organization for Asian and Pacific Island American LGBTQ youth, is founded by BAGLY member Leah Eckelberger
1997 The Theater Offensive founds True Colors Out Youth Theater Troupe in collaboration with BAGLY, Boston GLASS and Project 10 East
1999 BAGLY is the first community based LGBTQ youth program in the country to offer on site HIV counseling and testing to its members
2001 BAGLY is a founding member of the Youth of Color Coalition in Boston.
2004 The Queer Youth Fund awards BAGLY a three year grant to expand its Leadership Development programming, specifically the Queer Activist College (QuAC), a program which builds the leadership capital of LGBTQ youth in Greater Boston
2006 BAGLY is a founding member of the LGBTQ Youth Provider Coalition
2007 Three of BAGLY’s staff become founding members of the Massachusetts Commission on GLBT Youth
2007 After 25 years BAGLY’s membership outgrows Saint John the Evangelist Church and moves to a larger meeting space at the Community Church of Boston in Copley Square
2008 BAGLY is the first community based LGBTQ youth program in the country to offer peer based HIV counseling and testing to its membership
2008 BAGLY debuts Out Spoken Boston’s first LGBTQ youth only monthly open mic event
2009 Go Get ‘Em Wednesdays: A BAGLY Ball Community Mini Function is debuted
2009 BAGLY and NYAC (National Youth Advocacy Coalition) collaborate on the ground-breaking Best Practice Institute for LGBTQ Youth Workers at the national Creating Change Conference
2009 The National Coalition for LGBTQ Health partners with BAGLY and Tapestry Health to convene a national meeting on the health needs of out of home LGBTQ youth
2009 The largest event in BAGLY’s history (and one of the largest events specifically for LGBTQ youth in the world)—the 29th Annual BAGLY Prom held at Boston City Hall is attended by over 1,700 LGBTQ youth and their allies.
2010 BAGLY staff, volunteers and youth look on as BAGLY Executive Director Grace Sterling Stowell receives the 2010 Susan J. Hyde Activism Award for Longevity in the Movement at the 2010 Creating Change Conference in Dallas, TX.
2010 BAGLY and Executive Director Grace Sterling Stowell, are named Boston Pride 2010 Grand Marshals
2010 BAGLY: The Boston Alliance of GLBT Youth celebrates its 30th Anniversary on July 31st
 

Approach

Youth Leadership + Adult Support

As one of the country’s first and longest running youth-led, adult-supported LGBTQ organizations, BAGLY has added shape and definition (and flair!) to the field of youth work. In 1980, BAGLY’s youth and adults worked without a rulebook or roadmap: there were no best practices, no professional training for youth work, no coalitions, and not even one other LGBTQ youth group in the state with whom to collaborate.  As a result, BAGLY’s youth and adult leadership worked together to establish and develop institutional best practices regarding: youth/adult organizational power and collaboration, personal boundaries between youth and adults, and meaningful youth participation and leadership.  Today we have come to understand many of these principles as among the core concepts of the Youth Development Approach.

Diversity + Respect + Social Justice

For many communities, institutional oppression, including racism, sexism, heterosexism, adultism and classism, can negatively impact health and achievement outcomes. This is most especially true for LGBTQ youth who move through the world balancing multiple marginalized identities every day.  As an organization committed to social justice, our advocacy work challenges oppression on an institutional level by identifying and naming the resulting disparities among LGBTQ youth.

BAGLY’s long-standing commitment to social justice also means that much of our youth programming focuses on promoting a greater understanding of and respect for the diversity within the youth communities we serve, and ensuring that our youth and adult leadership is reflective of that diversity.

We believe it is our responsibility as a diverse community to identify and emphasize the value of accountability for oppressive behaviors. As part of our Leadership Development programming, BAGLY staff, adult volunteers, youth leaders, and youth members work to recognize dominant group identity (white/male/gender normative/adult), make connections between oppressive behaviors and dominant groups, and develop the skills and caring behaviors needed to uphold BAGLY’s commitment to social justice and to create anti-oppressive environments for LGBTQ youth.

The BAGLY “Frees”

In order to create a safe and welcoming space at BAGLY where everyone is able to participate to the fullest, we think it’s important to maintain a space for LGBTQ youth that is free of sex, drugs, alcohol, violence, weapons, pressure, and harassment.  As such, all participants of BAGLY’s programs and events are expected to refrain from engaging in sex, violence, pressure, and harassment and from carrying/holding/selling/distributing drugs, alcohol, or weapons while in our space.

We view this effort as very different from attempting to police or control behavior.  We appreciate that LGBTQ youth engage in all kinds of behaviors for all kinds of different reasons (including sometimes for economic survival), and that LGBTQ youth make all kinds of decisions that exist within a continuum of negotiated safety and harm reduction.

We also recognize that as sexual minorities many LGBTQ youth experience denial of sexual difference, and as a result often receive incomplete/inaccurate information regarding desire, sexual possibility, safety, risk and resources. For these reasons, our approach to programming and services is youth-centered, non-judgmental and "sex-positive" (meaning we think consensual sex is natural and healthy). At BAGLY, 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. 

 

Statewide & Boston-Based Programs for LGBTQ Youth

For over thirty years, BAGLY’s weekly programming and annual social events have provided safe, supportive, non-exploitative, and culturally competent spaces where LGBTQ youth can access social support and services, develop leadership, and build community. Over 3,000 youth ages 22 and under who are LGBTQ or questioning their sexual/gender identity participate in BAGLY’s Boston based programming every year.

Contrary to our name, BAGLY’s work extends well beyond the borders of the City of Boston.  Through the GLBTQ+ Youth Group Network of Massachusetts, we provide technical assistance and training, capacity building, best practices development, and program evaluation to LGBTQ youth groups across the state. This vital work ensures that each year, nearly 7,000 LGBTQ youth and young adults from urban, suburban, and rural communities in Massachusetts access comprehensive, culturally competent social support, leadership development, and health promotion programs and referral services.

Visit our programs page to find out more about our Statewide and Boston-based work.

 

Advocacy

BAGLY has advocated for programs, policies, and services, built the community, social, and economic capital of youth, and contributed to the political power of the LGBTQ movement for over 30 years! Youth and adults from BAGLY were among the leaders of the advocacy efforts that added “sexual orientation” to the list of defined, protected groups in the Massachusetts Students’ Rights Law in 1993, and co-founded the National Youth Advocacy Coalition (NYAC), a national social justice organization established to strengthen the role of young people in the LGBTQ rights movement, later that same year.  In 2008, BAGLY youth and adult staff were among the founding members appointed to the Massachusetts Commission on GLBT Youth.

BAGLY partners with a wide range of local and national organizations to develop policy agendas that support the needs of LGBTQ youth in the areas of LGBTQ hate crime violence and school bullying, homelessness, health access, sex education, right of minors, research, data collection, and other systematic issues. BAGLY also serves as the fiscal sponsor of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC), and works with MTPC to advocate for the needs of transgender and gender non-conforming youth in Massachusetts.

Young LGBTQ movement leaders have played a vital role in identifying issues, working toward solutions, and reducing health, education, employment, and housing disparities among LGBTQ communities.  The Queer Activist College (QuAC), a Boston-Based BAGLY program, engages young LGBTQ people from the most marginalized communities in organizing for policy and systems change, and connects young people with meaningful opportunities to create and grow youth-led campaigns and develop a vision for a strong, youth-led social justice community.  BAGLY also supports QuAC graduates in applying their skills to higher education, meaningful employment, and advanced leadership opportunities in social justice organizing and other movement work.

 

Collaboration

When BAGLY was founded in 1980, it was the only GLBTQ youth-specific organization in Massachusetts, and one of the few in the country.  Now it is part of a local and national network of GLBTQ and mainstream individuals, institutions, and organizations working together to impact the lives of GLBTQ young people.

Collaborative relationship building with community resources is a hallmark of BAGLY’s programming. We’ve seen first hand how collaboration increases our membership’s ability to “community map” supportive places and to identify allies and opportunities within neighborhoods, communities, and organizations.  

CHECK OUT A FEW OF OUR FABULOUS CO-CONSPIRATORS WHO HAVE JOINED US IN OUR EFFORT TO ENSURE THAT A COMPREHENSIVE SYSTEM OF SERVICES, SUPPORT AND OPPORTUNITIES IS AVAILABLE TO AND ACCESSED BY THE YOUTH WHO NEED THEM:

 

Technical Assistance & Training

Although LGBTQ-specific organizations such as BAGLY are critically important for the young people of our community, it is also important that mainstream youth-serving organizations work to become more culturally competent in serving young people of all identities and communities. We work with programs and organizations towards the goal of increasing LGBTQ youth competency in the sector, and expanding the community-based service and support networks available to LGBTQ youth.

BAGLY can provide professional trainings and technical assistance for high schools, colleges, LGBTQ-specific, and mainstream organizations on a variety of LGBTQ youth related topics. Trainings, technical assistance, and speaking engagements may be contracted one-time or on an ongoing basis and can include: cultural competency building, program development, social media proficiency, health promotion, youth leadership development, and more. Training, technical assistance and public speaking fees very depending upon size and content. All fees support BAGLY’s programming and services for LGBTQ youth.  Contact us to find out more.

Also, many high school GSAs, college groups, and even some “AGLYs” have been founded by youth who developed and honed their skills at BAGLY. Our Leadership Development  and Health Promotion programs are a great resource for schools, churches, and community groups looking to increase the public speaking, meeting facilitation, health promotion, and other leadership skills of their youth participants. Contact us for more information on ways to connect youth with our programs.