• Marriage in Maine

Guest Post: Nick Pfost, Legislative & Political Intern

John McKenna's picture
Written by John McKenna
August 6, 2014 - 12:07pm

 All Good Things…

In my first post back in May, I came out to all of you as a Michigander.  I shared with you what brought me to Maine – the opportunity to learn from legal and policy experts, communications professionals, and veteran community organizers who had already addressed a raft of policy problems here that we have barely even touched in Michigan.  But there was more to it, as well.  As someone from away, I recognized the potential for there to be an imbalance in the value generated for me and for the organization – that, given the time and energy invested in bringing an out-of-stater like me up to speed on the local and state political environments, I may reap the greater benefit.  Knowing that, I felt that it was especially important for the relationship to be valuable for all of us – that the work I’m doing be of real, tangible benefit to Mainers.  I believe that it has, and I am so grateful for the opportunity.

Having only lived in Maine for the last eleven weeks, it is surreal how much more this experience has meant to me than I could have hoped.  As a lifelong Michigander, I was surprised by how quickly and unexpectedly I came to regard both this organization and the state of Maine as my homes away from home.

It began with the staff’s commitment to ensuring that I had opportunities to engage with several areas of our work, that I had the support I needed, and that I was invited to contribute my skills and ideas as an equal member of the team.  

I had the privilege of working from multiple angles on our transgender health care initiative – both by researching the patchwork of regulation that governs transition-related care and by recruiting and training volunteers for public education actions across the state. I also invested a great deal of time in our general election endorsements, for which I worked on candidate outreach and legislative research.  I was provided (and eagerly seized) so many wonderful opportunities to meet with stakeholders on both of these issues, as well as those leaders who are actively addressing the needs of HIV-positive Mainers, LGBT elders, and same-sex parents.  Together, all of these experiences have provided a level of context around which negotiations are had and public policy is truly made.

At some point during my time in Portland, I was on the phone with my mother and, apparently, spoke too positively about Maine and the work we’re doing at EqualityMaine.  She needed to refresh my memory about a “threat” she once leveled to keep me close to home: “the farther away you move, the longer my visits will be.”  But it wasn’t really a threat to me.  I’ve always felt like Michigan is the place I was destined to end up anyway.  It is my home, it’s where I grew up, where I went to high school and college, where I’ve cultivated most of my professional and personal relationships, and where I’d someday like to raise a family.  It is also one of the states that still has a long, long way to go in respecting and valuing its LGBT residents.  I am grateful to have worked with an organization that has led the way on so much of this important work, and to have done so in a state where residents feel just as deeply connected to their communities and one another.  I am not a Mainer, but there will always be a special place in my heart for the Pine Tree State.

I remain invested in so many of these important issues that EqualityMaine is addressing right now, and I am especially passionate about ensuring that transgender Mainers have the opportunity to live full, authentic lives without worrying that their insurance companies might exclude coverage for medical care that their doctors have prescribed. This work could not continue without a dedicated and energized base of support. I challenge you to take your commitment to EqualityMaine to the next level – sign up to volunteer with us or make a gift to support our Foundation work.

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