The BAGLY Prom Series is the result of a seven-year project photographing the Boston Alliance of Gay & Lesbian Youth (BAGLY) Prom. BAGLY provides a safe haven for youth who are often, even in these progressive times, outsiders in their own youth culture and who may not yet have a foothold in adult gay society. The annual BAGLY Prom fills the hole left when these youth are not allowed to attend, or don’t feel a sense of belonging at the traditional youth proms in their own high schools.
The Prom, held for thirty-three years, flies under mainstream radar, yet thrives within gay youth subculture. Attendance can reach more than 1000 youth from Massachusetts and neighboring states. Although they may not dwell in the mainstream of the larger culture, these youth are not exotic subject matter. They are our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and students in the classrooms of our high schools and colleges.
As a social documentary photographer, I have learned that documenting unique groups of people, at particular times, in particular places can have a significant impact. This current period represents a key moment in social history when a thirty-three year tradition continues to play a vital role, while the lives of these youth hang in the balance between imminent, broad social acceptance and historical, outright discrimination and oppression. This project is based in the hopeful idea that one day such an event may not be necessary.
Zoe Perry-Wood holds a BFA in photography from Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Zoe’s work has been featured in solo exhibitions at Gallery Kayafas which represents her work and Art@Palace Road at Simmons School of Social Work. Shown internationally, Zoe has been included in group and juried exhibitions at The National Portrait Gallery in London, The Kinsey Institute at Grunwald Gallery of Art, Indiana University, Soho Photo in New York, Gallery Photographica in San Francisco, CA; Photo Center NW in Seattle, WA; Camera Obscura Gallery in Denver, CO; Vermont Photo Workplace Gallery, Middlebury, VT; and throughout Massachusetts at the Danforth Museum, the Bakalar Gallery at Massachusetts College of Art, the Schoolhouse Gallery, the University Place Gallery at Harvard University, and The St. Botolph Club. Images from the BAGLY Prom project were up on The Fence, a summer-long, outdoor, juried photography exhibit on the Rose Kennedy Greenway.