Boston Mayor Michelle Wu on Wednesday announced a new office for LGBTQ+ advancement, elevating advocacy for the city’s queer community to a more prominent place in her still-shifting administration.
The new office will be “focused on serving, uplifting, advancing, and highlighting the LGBTQ+ community,” Wu said at a City Hall news conference, standing with a spirited and occasionally emotional group of more than two dozen advocates and elected leaders. City officials said the new office would coordinate resources, offer programming, and advocate for policy changes for the LGBTQ+ community.
“For too long, members of our LGBTQ+ community have had to invent systems of safety and support for themselves,” Wu said. “And for too long, many of us outside the community failed to act.”
The new office is the latest in a string of initiatives the new mayor has launched since taking office in November, a list that also includes new offices on early childhood, Black male advancement, and urban agriculture. While the new efforts make clear statements about the mayor’s priorities, their scope and impact remain to be seen. City officials said Wednesday that the office would initially employ two or three people, but did not say what its budget would be. More information about funding allocations is expected to emerge next month, as the city begins debating its annual budget.
LGBTQ+ advocates expressed gratitude and high hopes for the new initiative, describing the office’s creation as a sign that city government is recognizing and prioritizing Boston’s LGBTQ+ community. It scales up the city’s current efforts, which have been led by a liaison to the community.
“This administration is showing us accountability,” said Chastity Bowick, executive director of the Transgender Emergency Fund of Massachusetts, an organization that supports low-income and homeless transgender people. “This is not just going to be a lip-service office, but is actually going to get work done.”
Wu said the city will launch a search for a director of the new office. That will run alongside a number of other high-profile hiring processes, including searches for a new Boston police commissioner and school superintendent.
Wu has made notable changes to the structure of her Cabinet since taking office, elevating certain roles and creating or renaming others in a statement of her priorities.