Area residents and youth have joined together to form the Mystic LGBTQ+ Youth Support Network (Queer Mystic), an organization dedicated to providing services and support to the area’s LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer/questioning) youth.
A gala launch event is set for Friday, Nov. 13, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Arlington Center for the Arts, 41 Foster St.
Admission is free but donations are welcome.
Queer Mystic is a grass-roots, all-volunteer organization headed by a six-member steering committee and guided by a Youth Advisory Council. It was formed after two exploratory meetings last spring at the Robbins Library and the Arlington Center for the Arts.
The meetings were well-attended by parents, allies, activists, government representatives and LGBTQ+ youth from Arlington, Belmont, Lexington, Medford, Winchester and beyond. Several youth told personal stories that underscored the need for a private, comfortable, and safe location where queer youth can share recreation, group activities, peer education, identification, support, and freedom to express themselves openly.
Last May 29, the organization’s first drop-in night for youth was held in Arlington. Eighteen young people, ages 12 through high school, attended to listen to music, create collages, and relax in a no-judgmental atmosphere, chaperoned by queer adults. The drop-in nights continued through the summer, offering social opportunities and programming that included art making, games, theater improv, queer history and music.
Since forming, Queer Mystic has created a website to share information about area events and services for queer youth (www.queermystic.org), hosted a booth at Arlington Town Day, organized recreational outings, collaborated with Arlington’s Parent Forum Committee on a Parent Forum, and brainstormed a plan to connect with local schools that will be implemented this fall. Future goals include establishing a drop-in center available to queer youth throughout the week.
A Medford resident, quoted in a group news release, says: "My high school has a very active Gay Straight Alliance, but our focus is mostly what we can do for the community as opposed to what the community can do for us. As a gender-queer 12th grader, there are not many accessible resources near me where I can meet queer kids from other towns, let alone spaces specifically designed to provide programming for queer youth.
"I have loved being a part of the planning of the Mystic LGBTQ+ Youth Support Network. Having a space where I feel supported and where I can openly express myself, whether it be through theater, art, or just conversation, as well as continually learn new things about the queer community has been truly amazing."
Anna Watson, president of Queer Mystic, said in the release about the importance of this group to our community, "Homophobia continues to deeply and negatively affect the lives of our children and youth. At Queer Mystic, we provide space and programming for LGBTQ+ youth, we also advocate for them in community organizations and schools, where this population is often ignored, or crowded in with services and programs that do not take into account differences in sexuality or gender presentation. Queer Mystic is about weaving a safety net, connecting organizations and individuals so that every LGBTQ+ youth can be themselves."
All are invited to the Nov. 13 launch event to enjoy food and entertainment, and learn about Queer Mystic’s programming, mission and volunteer opportunities. To learn more about Queer Mystic, volunteer to help, or learn about joining the Youth Advisory Council, visit the website at www.queermystic.org.
This announcement was published Monday, Oct. 19, 2015.
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