The past few years have seen some significant triumphs for LGBTQ rights in America. Still, they remain a heavily marginalized group across the country, often denied many of the opportunities open to their heterosexual peers. LGBTQ advocacy and awareness remain strikingly important as numerous taskforces continue to report discrimination and negative reactions towards the LGBTQ community, particularly among youth. NerdWallet is committed to honoring nonprofit organizations that help the underserved, and these groups advocate for equality and happiness for all. Here we recognize the top organizations serving LGBT communities in New England.
LGBT Coalition of Western Massachusetts: For bridging community gaps
Created to preserve the wellbeing of LGBTQ individuals, the LGBT Coalition of Western MA provides a number of services for the underrepresented people they serve. They provide help ranging anywhere from community education and outreach services to advocacy projects. The goals of the Coalition are twofold: to be a support system for the LGBTQ families and individuals who need their help, and to help address larger societal issues to help bridge the gaps between LGBTQ communities and others in Massachusetts. The organization additionally pays special attention to minority groups within LGBTQ communities that might be further marginalized, helping to raise awareness of their issues and fight these cultural biases. The Coalition also sponsors numerous community events and fundraisers, including the upcoming Rainbow Riverfest on September 22nd, which will feature food, entertainment, and LGBTQ workshops. They also offer a scholarship fund for LGBTQ youth and partner with Gay-Straight Alliances across the state. These dedicated nonprofit activists are working hard to united communities and break down LGBTQ barriers. NerdWallet thanks the Coalition for its continuing efforts for social equality and unification.
Boston Alliance of Gay Lesbian Transgender Youth: Young nerds getting the job done
The Boston Alliance of Gay Lesbian Transgender Youth (BAGLY) is an innovative LGBTQ “youth led, adult supported social organization.” Founded back in 1980, BAGLY is a pioneering organization for Boston community support of LGBTQ youth. Since then, they have been involved in the GLBT Youth Group Network of Massachusetts, the National Youth Advocacy Coalition, and the Massachusetts Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, among others. Their thoughtful programs are directed towards necessary health promotion, building supportive communities, and developing social leaders among LGBTQ youth. BAGLY works constantly to establish city programs to educate and create safe spaces for LGBTQ individuals, helping more than 3,000 LGBTQ youth every year. These might include anything from their weekly leadership meetings to their promotion of the Health Education And Risk Reduction Team (HEARRT) that organizes small groups of youth to educate and advocate for health issues in their local areas. BAGLY also makes HIV counseling and testing available for those in need. They do not stop there. This nonprofit goes well beyond their Boston borders and provides training, advising, evaluation, and technical support to other LGBTQ youth groups across the state. NerdWallet is committed to helping America’s youth and young adults with their finances, and it was BAGLY’s focus on rallying youth for change that caught NerdWallet’s eye. We wish BAGLY the best in advocating for the youth of Boston and the rest of Massachusetts.
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders: Nerds for equality under the law
Discrimination based on sexual orientation is not just a social issue, but often an economic and legal one as well. Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) is a New England organization that is leading the way in fighting for the legal rights of LGBTQ citizens and working against discrimination stemming from sexual orientation, HIV status, or gender identity. GLAD operates 4 major initiative programs: a Civil Rights Project, AIDS Law Project, Transgender Rights Project, and a New England Marriage Campaign. In addition to these advocacy and legislation projects, these guys are going to bat for LGBTQ citizens in court all over the New England Area. GLAD also has either settled cases, maintains ongoing cases, or both in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. They also do a considerable amount of public education work on the issues they’re involved in. Through their website, their publications, community workshops, and their own Legal InfoLine (a hotline to provide one-on-one legal information, support, and referrals) they help to spread the word about important LGBTQ issues. GLAD has also spearheaded efforts to have a review of the Defense of Marriage Act before the Supreme Court. The dedicated activists, lawyers, and volunteer network that make up GLAD fight hard every day and on multiple fronts to gain social equality for all LGBTQ citizens. These guys use their brains in the courtroom and to educate the public, and NerdWallet supports them and their fight for justice.
RU12?: Vermont’s community center for LGBTQ nerds
Founded by students from the University of Vermont in 1998, RU12? is a self-described “queer space” that is open to all races, genders, and ages of Vermont’s citizens. Since its inception, RU12? has merged with SafeSpace and Equality Vermont to become Vermont’s largest LGBTQ organization. They operate one main community center location in Burlington, and have many statewide programs and initiatives. These include LGBTQ cultural support through media projects and social events, education through their drop-in resource center (including HIV prevention information and testing), and advocating efforts against violence and discrimination through community support groups and the state legislature. They are also one of the fewer LGBTQ groups that has special advocacy for LGBTQ elders, who are often further marginalized by discrimination or overshadowed by more active LGBTQ youth. RU12? directly serves thousands of LGBTQ citizens in Vermont, and helps others across the country through their continued education and advocacy. Their regular community meetings and annual fund raising dinners are also organizational highlights. What began as a couple of college nerds volunteering their time to help underserved LGBTQ citizens has turned into a powerful nonprofit fighting for social justice all across Vermont. NerdWallet supports their work and we hope you do too.
LGBT Center of Raleigh
With the opening of a new location earlier this year, the LGBT Center of Raleigh proves itself as a recognizable force for the welfare of the LGBTQ community in North Caroline. The Center serves the Triangle Region of North Carolina and has been operating for over a decade. Initially supported by its partner Triangle Community Works (TCW), the Center has grown to a fully operational volunteer and support network to provide safe spaces, education, and advocacy for and about North Carolina’s LGBTQ youth. They have a substantial amount of community partners and use them to offer the people the serve a wealth of online resources. At the center itself, they offer drop-in counseling hours and provide on-site HIV testing, as well as holding networking and social events for the entire community. The Center can also be used as a meeting place for other organizations to safely meet. One thing we nerds love about the Center is that it opened its library last fall to house and provide materials for the organization’s outreach and education efforts, as well as being accessible to all allies of LGBTQ citizens. The Center is not limited to youth, however, and also actively serves the adult LGBTQ community in the triangle area, providing them with all the same services and additional meeting events and interest groups. The Center is a welcoming and caring nonprofit that faithfully and justly serves North Carolina’s LGBTQ population, and we thank them for their hard work.
Swish Pride: Connecting all New Yorkers for justice
Swish is a gay-straight alliance nonprofit based in New York that focuses its efforts on furthering LGBTQ rights in America. Started in 2003, Swish is dedicated to increasing the involvement of heterosexual men and women in LGBTQ issues and advocacy. They believe in uniting communities and strengthening ties to better support legislation that guarantees rights and changes cultural understanding towards social equality. Their current work includes fighting to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, working to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, furthering LGBTQ rights to adopt children and gain full spousal rights, and reforming immigration law to acknowledge same-sex immigrant families. Swish itself has over 2,000 active members, but they also partner with our organizations to hold fundraising and education events, as well as connect LGBTQ individuals through their social networks. They have previously been helpful and successful in advocating to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and have been recognized at international LGBTQ festivals. One of their more recent victories was helping to pass the New York’s marriage equality bill in 2011. These nerds rally their communities and connect gay and straight citizens through innovative social media and welcoming outreach to fight for equal rights. NerdWallet supports their legal and social efforts for justice.