Since the Memphis Area Gay Youth (MAGY) group was founded 15 years ago, the youth-run, adult-advised support group has kept its meeting place a secret. At the time, group leaders wanted LGBT kids to have a safe place to retreat, and they feared that revealing the meeting location would put some kids at risk.
But on Friday, Feb. 19 from 7 to 9 p.m., MAGY members will finally open their doors to the public in the group's first-ever open house at First Congregational Church.
"We want to send a positive message about being out,” says advisor Mary Park, a former MAGY youth participant. “How can we encourage young people to come out of the closet if we as an organization don’t do the same thing?”
Since its inception, MAGY has served as a support group for LGBT and questioning youth ages 13 to 20. Advisor Derek Norman says MAGY offers youth a safe place to be "out" since many regular members have to hide their identity at school, at home, and from their close friends. The group meets every Friday night at First Congregational Church.
“One of the challenges of growing up gay is that, unlike most people of ethnic or racial minorities, you often don’t share an identity with anyone in your family," says Norman. "There may be no one at home who understands what you are going through."