Our Tatte Community: BAGLY

At Tatte, one of our dreams is to offer a friendly, welcoming space for guests and team members alike. This dream takes us beyond the walls of our cafés into the neighborhoods we call home by supporting local organizations addressing the critical needs of women, youth, and families like BAGLY (the Boston Alliance of LGBTQ+ Youth).

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SUPPORTING BAGLY

For the past five years, we have partnered with BAGLY (the Boston Alliance of LGBTQ+ Youth), a resource for people age 22 and under who identify as LGBTQ+, along with the people who love and support them. Every June, in celebration of Pride Month, we raise awareness and funds for BAGLY through the sale of slices of Pride Cake. Since Tatte expanded to the Washington D.C. area in 2021, we’ve also partnered there with SMYAL: Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders, https://smyal.org/.

GETTING TO KNOW BAGLY

Founded in 1980, BAGLY (the Boston Alliance of LGBTQ+ Youth) is a youth-led, adult-supported social support organization for the LGBTQ+ youth community. It is the oldest continuously running, independent LGBTQ+ youth organization in the United States, working with more than 45,000 youth to date. BAGLY also provides assistance to the AGLY Network, 15 affiliated but independent LGBTQ+ groups and programs located throughout Massachusetts and presents Massachusetts Youth Pride annually in May. Kurtlan Massarsky, BAGLY’s Director of Development and Marketing describes BAGLY’s mission: 

“We create an environment, a landscape, a world in which all LGBTQ+ youth are not only free but encouraged to develop themselves. We offer community access, lifesaving resources and services, and really, at the end of the day, a place to make friends and find themselves. BAGLY stands as a beacon of hope, a beacon of light that is working to transform both the lives and landscapes of LGBTQ+ people in Boston and beyond. The real vision behind that is that when people are happy, healthy, and supported, they develop into the kinds of leaders that really lead the whole.”

YOUTH-LED, ADULT SUPPORTED: A PLACE TO BE YOURSELF

BAGLY’s community center in downtown Boston is a 10,000+ square feet space where LGBTQ+ youth can hang out, do homework, maybe play some video games. They can do a load of laundry or get help in finding safe, stable housing. BAGLY’s Stabilization and Success program offers direct aid for covering rent, utility bills or groceries, and support in setting and reaching goals around employment or education. BAGLY offers mental health counseling and sexually transmitted infection screening, all at no cost. The center also houses the free BAGLY Boutique, which features mostly new clothing, shoes, winter coats, and gender-affirming wear. 

Kurtlan noted that the retention rate for BAGLY’s programs is 85-90%, which is remarkable for any youth programming in which attendance is completely optional. He said, 

“That’s what happens when you lead with mutual respect. You lift up who they already are. And I think that's an area where BAGLY excels. We are not trying to tell young people how to be, what to think, what to do. We are here to tell them that we care about them. We want them to be happy and healthy, and we want to hear about all they want to do, and in any ways that we can support them.”

ADVOCACY, ACTIVISM, AN EVEN A VOCATION

BAGLY’s youth leadership and advocacy program is a year-long training that creates the foundation and teaches the basics of leadership. For those who are interested, the completion of the program could lead to paid opportunities to go out to the community and speak publicly, meet with legislators, or advocate on behalf of proposed policies. 

“We send speakers to schools, boardrooms, other organizations, the State House—it really runs the gamut, though the topics have changed. In the early ‘80s, BAGLY was one of the only trusted sources for information about the HIV and AIDS epidemic. Thankfully, that's one of the areas we've seen enormous progress. So today, we're talking more about the encroachment on our civil liberties, attempts to ban books in Massachusetts, attempts of school committees to ban Pride flags, attempts to stifle the creativity and self-expression of young people regardless of their identity or orientation. Because, yes, while we might be fighting for ourselves and our own community, we realize that we're all in this together.” –Kurtlan Massarsky

Some youth who participated in BAGLY programs have gone on to dedicate their careers to fighting for equality, like Daunasia Yancey who in 2014 founded the Boston Black Lives Matter chapter and now works in Boston City Hall as Deputy Director for the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ+ Advancement, and her colleague Candace Nguyen, who is a Community Relations Specialist.

For more on BAGLY, please visit https://www.bagly.org/.
Or find them on Instagram or Tiktok.

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