Politics

Boston announces first-ever Office of LGBTQ+ Advancement

“Boston’s LGBTQ+ community deserves an office that affirms and uplifts and defends the safety of all, the opportunities and the dreams of all.”

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu announced the new Office of LGBTQ+ Advancement Wednesday morning in a press conference at City Hall. Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Boston will soon have its own Office of LGBTQ+ Advancement dedicated to empowering, protecting, and promoting the rights and advancement of Boston’s LGBTQ+ residents. 

Mayor Michelle Wu announced the creation of the office Wednesday alongside community leaders including Chief of Equity and Inclusion Mariangely Solis Cervera, Executive Director of BAGLY Grace Sterling Stowell, Executive Director of the Transgender Emergency Fund Chastity Bowick, state Sen. Julian Cyr, and various Boston City Council members.

“City Hall can do much more to ensure that we are truly connecting with and serving LGBTQ+ residents across all of our neighborhoods,” Wu said. “This new office will ensure that our policies and programs are advancing and protecting the rights and dignity of Boston’s LGBTQ+ residents and centering the lived experiences of queer, trans BIPOC residents in the city’s work to make Boston a place for everyone.”

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The city is looking to hire a new executive director for the office to collaborate with the Equity and Inclusion Cabinet led by Solis Cervera. The application is available online

Solis Cervera said one of the things the office will focus on is coordination of resources — a lot of resources already exist but aren’t making it into people’s lives when they need to.  

“We are not here to save anyone or to reinvent the wheel. We are here to uplift the communities that have been holding it down for us for a very long time,” Solis Cervera said. “We are here to build trust with this community because we believe that we can change the trajectory of this city, and last but not least, we’re here to also change policy, because it’s about policy as well.”

Bowick, who heads the Transgender Emergency Fund that supports low-income and homeless transgender individuals across the state, said the creation of this office is really an advancement for the LGBTQ community. 

“Before this office, we have nowhere to go in City Hall besides the liaison, which has only limited capacity for issues that are facing our community,” Bowick said. “Now when something is going on, one of our members are being discriminated against or whatever the case may be, we have a direct office to be able to assist us with these matters.”

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Before the creation of this office, much of the work was led by LGBTQ+ liaisons who served in the Office of Neighborhood Services.

“I want everyone to know that is doing the work, the real work, that this is not in vain. We see you. I see you, and we celebrate you,” said Quincey J. Roberts Sr., the current liaison to the LGBTQ+ community in the Office of Neighborhood Services. “I am very proud that the city’s work on behalf of this community will expand beyond the liaison role to a full department that is more representative of the entire LGBTQ community.”

The announcement comes amid a national movement to “strip away rights that the queer community has fought and waited so long for,” said Wu. Already this year, more than 20 bills targeted at transgender people have been introduced into state legislatures, making 2022 poised to become the year with the most anti-LGBTQ legislation.

“For too long members of our LGBTQ+ community have had to invent systems of safety and support for themselves, while those in power have looked on or away,” Wu said. “For too long, they’ve needed to find resilience in the absence of protection. And for too long, too many of us outside the community failed to act. Boston’s LGBTQ+ community deserves an office that affirms and uplifts and defends the safety of all, the opportunities and the dreams of all.”

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Solis Cervera echoed that sentiment, saying that this is a step forward, but the work is not done. 

“I want us to remember that while we have come a long way, our youth are still seeing us, our youth are still expecting us to continue to build safe and inclusive environments for them,” she said. “My commitment as the chief of equity of this cabinet as we build out this office is that we are going to be driven by you and with you. I hope that you hear that and that you hold us accountable.”

Wu said she is excited to work with Solis Cervera and the yet-to-be-hired executive director of the office to uplift, serve, and support LGBTQ+ residents.

“This is a city where we have the leadership in place across the administration, across the City Council, across our Legislature, and all throughout our community to ensure that we see each other with love, with respect, with trust, and with possibility,” she said. “I’m glad to be here today to affirm this commitment in solidarity with and in celebration of and alongside our community members, neighbors, families, friends, students, teachers, city workers, business owners, activists, and athletes.”

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