• Marriage in Maine

Guest Post: Maggie Zall, Summer Intern

John McKenna's picture
Written by John McKenna
August 11, 2014 - 4:02pm

In fourth grade, there was a field behind my middle school where we could play during recess. And every day, the boys would play football, while the girls would stand by, asking why we could never play what we wanted,  why we couldn’t ever join those games. I don’t know why, but maybe it was a little bit of a shock when one day, all of the girls left class fifteen minutes early and the teachers found us sitting on the field – rows of little girls, silent, protesting an injustice. When they ask who organized this elaborate plan, I stood up proudly, pigtails defiantly waving in the wind. During my two-day suspension, I figured out exactly what I wanted to do with my life: rally the troops and fight. (And for the record, those middle school teachers never let that field be segregated like that again.)

I’m generally the one with the loudest mouth in any group, always heard before seen, so it’s not a huge surprise that activism and advocacy work speaks to the fiery heart inside of my chest. I’ve been engaged with that community since I was fourteen, and never looked back. I organized an art show for Preble Street Teen Center called “Escape Velocity”, to build awareness around homeless youth. I’ve previously done work with Outright, especially on their Speakers Bureau, going to schools to talk about my experiences coming out as a lesbian. I was on the organizing committee of Take Back The Night with SARRSM (Sexual Response Services of Southern Maine), to help fight domestic violence and sexual assault. I currently work with Prevention Action Change, which teaches feminism based self-defense to young women. I have been known to be that girl at any given moment to outbursts of rants about intersectionality, radical feminism, queer politics. I guess you could say I am maybe a little outspoken about my beliefs.

Born and raised in Portland, Maine, I have an affinity for salt water and ocean breezes. I hate cold weather, so I ache for Georgia in my bones; some days I wake up tasting peaches on my tongue. I never discount how blessed I am to have spent the last 26 years in a tiny city full of art and acceptance. I can walk down the street holding my partner’s hand with my neon green hair, my skin full of tattoos, and see nothing but a field of my smiling faces. Who can argue with that?

My internship with Equality Maine came to fruition because I’m presently working toward my degree in Behavioral Health and Human Services. Ideally, I’ll one day have my masters in Social Work, so I can go on to open community outreach centers for GLBTQ youth in underrepresented areas. When I was offered the Program Internship, I was elated. My focus toward the GLBTQ sector has always been apparent and to be able to work with a steadfast part of our local community, who has done such monumental work was an honor, to say the least.

Since I began my work with Equality Maine, I’ve been delving into the New Leaders Project, which is centered around teaching GLBTQ and allied youth how to become leaders and community organizers within their schools and communities. Working directly to facilitate and organize the Project, meet the trainers, and collaborate with fellow interns is a learning experience to me I’ll never forget. But interacting with the participants – hearing their stories, watching them grow as leaders – has been one of the most fulfilling and inspirational times in my life. Starting in the fall, I’ll be shifting my focus toward the Youth Initiative anti-bullying work for GLBTQ youth within the school systems.

I remember having no voice. I remember being young and looking up at people walking down the street and thinking “how do they do that – walk with such pride, such confidence?” And then I started screaming, and I haven’t stopped. My work with Equality Maine is to help give those without a voice the belief they can whisper, the aspiration to lift their chin up. As a Program Intern, I want to stand by the mission statement Equality Maine has put forth: full equality in the hearts and in the minds.

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