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Mayor Michelle Wu announces new LGBTQ+ Advancement office

Boston LGBTQ+ initiative
An LGBTQ+ flag. In efforts to focus on the advocacy, equity and empowerment of Boston’s LGBTQ+ community, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu announced March 23 a new office will be created for LGBTQ+ Advancement. BAYLE VINES/DFP STAFF

Mayor Michelle Wu announced the creation of a new office March 23 that will focus on advocacy, equity and empowerment of Boston’s LGBTQ+ community.

The Office for LGBTQ+ Advancement will “develop policy, organize programs and provide resources to protect and expand the rights of our LGBTQ+ residents,” Wu said at a press conference.

Wu added the responsibility to ensure the safety and prosperity of Bostonians identifying as LGBTQ+ does not solely belong to the community, but also to the rest of society. 

“Boston’s LGBTQ+ community deserves an office that affirms and uplifts and defends the safety of all,” Wu said. “This is a next step in our journey toward creating a City that is just, inclusive and safe for everyone in our community.”

Prior to the office’s establishment, LGBTQ+ Liaisons assisted Boston’s LGBTQ+ community in the Office of Neighborhood Services. City officials are currently looking for an executive director to lead the new office.

Several LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations and civil rights defenders have expressed their support and appreciation for Boston’s new office.

Janson Wu, executive director of GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders — a non-profit legal rights organization that works to end gender and sexuality discrimination — said GLAD welcomes the LGBTQ+ Advancement office as a demonstration of Boston’s commitment to ensure “equity and dignity for all Boston residents.”

“We look forward to the Mayor’s partnership in the continuing work toward a Boston that is welcoming to all, free from discrimination, and where everyone has the opportunity to thrive,” Janson wrote.

Chastity Bowick, executive director of the Transgender Emergency Fund of Massachusetts, an organization that supports low-income and homeless transgender people, emphasized the commitment Wu’s administration has toward the LGBTQ+ community. 

“This is not just going to be a lip service office,” Bowick said. “It is actually going to get work done that the community needs.”

Ruthzee Louijeune, city councilor and chair of the Civil Rights and Immigrant Advancement Committee, said the office will address the mental and physical health of LGBTQ+ community members as well as ways to improve the safety of transgender individuals. She added that to do this, the city needs to do a better job of normalizing LGBTQ+ identities. 

“Having a white man at the head of a boardroom is no more ordinary than having a Black trans woman at the head of a boardroom,” Louijeune said.

Louijeune spoke about the power that different communities can have when they come together to support one another.

“The more that we realize our issues are intersectional … the stronger our collectives are,” she said.

Louijeune added legislators still need to address social and economic disparities in many communities.

“Anytime that we are creating an office for groups that have been historically excluded from conversations, it’s about creating space for them to feel safe and to know that they have a government that is going to respond to their issues,” Louijeune said. “And not only be responsive, but also be proactive in addressing the specific needs of the community.”

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