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A photo of Commission members Alex Nally and Julian Cyr, speaking with Attorney General Maura Healey at the Commission's Annual Swearing In Ceremony.

Commission members Alex Nally and Julian Cyr chat with Attorney General Maura Healey at the Commission’s Annual Swearing In Ceremony.

The Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth is an independent agency established to recommend policies, programs, and resources for LGBTQ youth to thrive. The Commission’s work is driven by 50 members – including youth, providers, educators, policymakers, researchers, and community members. We asked one of our members, Alex Nally, to share their reflections on joining the Commission.

Not often enough are there opportunities to reflect on the strength and resiliency we can build in the faces of oppression and discrimination. This fall will mark three years since I first applied to be a member of the Commission – an initial action I took without any idea of where to begin engaging in the advancement ofadvancing equity and social justice for LGBTQ youth in Massachusetts.

Growing up queer in Chicopee, couch surfing through high school to escape homophobia and drug addicts at home, and losing a trans friend of mine to suicide meant that my identity, from the onset of coming out, had a heavily politicized context. The hoops I leapt through in adolescence were foundational to how I found my way on the Commission as a youth member when I joined as a 19-year-old freshman who knew we had a lot of work to do, and no idea where to start.

Upon joining the Commission, I immediately felt supported in a mentor-based environment that validated my experience as an LGBTQ youth. The Commission continues to be an incubator, an experimental space to dream of how we can connect advocates for LGBTQ youth in state government with community organizations and the youth they serve to facilitate a better quality of life for LGBTQ youth in the Commonwealth. Through this support and mentorship, the Commission allowed me to turn the challenges I experienced into a catalyst for creating structural change in our state government.

Becoming a member of the Commission connected me directly to the people that are able to make effective changes for LGBTQ youth. As a result, I spent the past year working with the Department of Higher Education and my alma mater, the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston, to develop inclusive regulations that help protect LGBTQ college students from sexual violence and discrimination on our college campuses – a key part of the recently ignited ongoing Title IX movement across the country.

Being on the Commission has taught me how much our voices as LGBTQ youth matter – and most of all, that there are people who want to hear our stories. Without the Commission, I don’t know where I would be today, or how I would have learned the skills I needed to thrive.

The Commission brings on new members each fall and is currently accepting membership applications through September 30. For the application or more information, visit our website.

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