BAGLY Staff & Youth Speak Out On Partnership
By: Audrey Cole/Reporter—
BOSTON—Recently, BAGLY (Boston Alliance of LGBTQ+ Youth) joined forces with PUMA sports company in a fundraising partnership to raise $50,000 for LGBTQ+ youth in celebration of LGBTQ+ history month and the non-profit’s 40th anniversary year.
“The BAGLY x PUMA partnership largely exists to build a visible bridge between the mental and physical health of LGBTQ+ youth,” said Kurtlan Massarsky, BAGLY’s Director of Development and Marketing. “When we were discussing this idea with PUMA, it became clear that we’re all trying to support LGBTQ+ youth holistically. PUMA has a long history of supporting ground—and record-breaking athletes, and BAGLY is significantly expanding our mental health and therapy programming. BAGLY and PUMA have teamed up to create a healthier, happier world for LGBTQ+ youth and encourage long term community investment for increased therapeutic programming and services for some of the most marginalized young people in our communities.”
PUMA has already donated $25,000 to BAGLY, matching the organization’s fundraising goal.
“The money our communities raise in tandem with PUMA will open even more doors, programmatically and organizationally, for LGBTQ+ youth in Massachusetts,” said Massarsky.
PUMA places the focus on supporting local LGBTQ+ youth and creating meaningful change.
“PUMA is proud to celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month by helping BAGLY raise funds that will directly support the LGBTQ+ youth community in Massachusetts,” while also emphasizing “the importance of supporting grassroots organizations that are making meaningful impact in our local communities,” said Adam Petrick, Director of Brand and Marketing for PUMA via a press release.
Specifically, these funds will allow the organization to continue to expand its mental health services, including one-on-one therapy with a licensed social worker, group therapy, and art therapy, Massarsky said.
“These services are free to LGBTQ+ youth ages 29 and younger, are available with or without an appointment, and do not require either insurance or identification for access to these services,” he said. “Most importantly, consistent community and corporate support of BAGLY ensures that these services remain free for LGBTQ+ youth.”
Safety and community acceptance are at the forefront of issues plaguing LGBTQ+ youth, which often leads to bullying and violence, especially at the intersection of race and gender identity.
“LGBTQ+ youth in Massachusetts face many barriers to being their true selves and to feeling safe in their own communities,” explained Massarsky. “This is particularly true for many queer people of color and transgender and nonbinary youth.
“While violence and bullying remain key areas of media focus, BAGLY addresses the holistic health of LGBTQ+ youth. In large part, this is why BAGLY is expanding our therapeutic services, along with providing help in navigating housing insecurities and homelessness, access to sex-positive healthcare, and encouraging harm reduction planning and techniques.”
Although Mass. has made positive advancement for LGBTQ+ youth and the community, it is not enough Massarsky added.
“While Massachusetts has made great strides over the years, and we’re particularly proud of the role we played in the incredible success of the #YesOn3 campaign, barriers still exist in this commonwealth. LGBTQ+ youth are particularly vulnerable to these barriers.”
BAGLY’s Executive Director, Grace Sterling Stowell, emphasized how young LGBTQ+ people will benefit as a result of this collaboration.
“By supporting BAGLY’s programs, PUMA is helping thousands of kids and young adults find their own voices, develop leadership skills, and stay healthy,” Sterling Stowell said via the same press release.
Youth speak out
LGBTQ+ youth chimed in on what was important to them.
“We asked some of BAGLY’s youth leadership about what they hope might change over the next 5 years,” said Massarsky. “Largely their concerns were about climate change, the physical and mental safety of transgender and nonbinary youth, and their access to culturally responsive communities, schools, and work environments.”
According to Massarsky, the hopes LGBTQ+ youth have for themselves do not differ greatly from their peers with other identities; but there are more barriers to their successes.
“BAGLY exists to help LGBTQ+ [youth] identify and knock down those barriers, and we’re proud to have PUMA as a partner in this life-changing, life-saving work,” he said.