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Boston's new office of LGBTQ+ advancement04:56
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2017 Boston Pride Parade (Elizabeth Gillis/WBUR)
2017 Boston Pride Parade (Elizabeth Gillis/WBUR)

The city of Boston has a new office of LGBTQ+ Advancement, opening July 1.

The office's responsibilities include developing relevant LGBTQ+ policies and serving the needs of the community.

Quincey J. Roberts Sr., executive director of the office, will lead that charge. He joined WBUR's Morning Edition host Rupa Shenoy to talk about his plans.

Below are highlights from their conversation, which have been lightly edited.

Interview Highlights

On what it means to be appointed to this role and why it's important

"For me, it's history. It's historic to have a Black, gay man from the South lead this charge in the city of Boston with all this history, good and bad. I've had all these ideas for over a decade and for the first time I really feel like I'm being heard and understood.

This current administration is just pushing forward and being bold. And that's what I'm known for, for pushing the envelope, holding people accountable and being bold. It's an honor for me."

On what he sees as the office's top priorities

"In the first year, we really want to just empower our LGBT community. And what I mean by empowering, we just want to show up and make sure that we are not only talking to the community.

And then second, we want to make sure that the queer community know all the many resources that the city has. My biggest critique that I have for City Hall is we have so many amazing people and so many amazing services, we just don't do a great job of communicating. So I want to make sure that Bostonians know that there's so many different resources, whether that's housing, whether that's job opportunities, whether that's mental health services, whether that's walking them through the permit process, which is very confusing ... just making sure that we help people thrive."

On what a lack of a centralized Pride parade means for the city

"The city has been resilient from its existence and Boston Pride dissolving has given the community an opportunity to rise and be resilient. My last real Pride parade was three years ago with Mayor Walsh, and I thought it was really good, it was a lot of different events. But now there's quadruple more things to do without Boston Pride. In a matter of a week, I've been to 13 different events and they're very diverse events and that's what I think the queer community is going to get out of this "lack of Boston Pride.

It also gives people an opportunity to step up because for years — including myself — we were relying on a group of people to put together this big, mega weekend, and we really didn't participate. So now it forces the LGBT community to come out of their houses and do something. I love how the community has just wrapped their arms around each other and just say, 'we're going to do something.' It just shows how resilient Boston has been and continues to be."

On making sure everyone in the LGBTQ community gets a seat at the table

"In the last eight months, I've done four focus groups. Housing is the number one issue. Number two is employment opportunities. And then number three is Boston Pride and the lack of safe spaces.

Our very first event that the city of Boston's LGBTQ+ Advancement office sponsored was the Trans Pride Day, which took place on June 4 on City Hall Plaza. So instead of telling people, you know, please partner with City Hall, we're giving them the opportunity and the resources to do their own thing.

We're also venturing out to work with some trans men, specifically African-American trans men. We just want to let people know, straight, gay or indifferent, that this community is vibrant, it's diverse and it has value."

This segment aired on June 10, 2022.

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