35 Years of EqualityMaine Recognizes 35 LGBTQ+ Mainers

As we close out the year-long celebration of our 35th anniversary, we wanted to take a moment to lift up and express gratitude to 35 LGBTQ+ Mainers who are actively working to make Maine a better place to live, work, and learn, specifically for our LGBTQ+ community. These people cross a number of industries, identities, and impact areas around the state, and we’re excited to share the full list with you here.  

Our list is by no means exhaustive, as we know that there are way more than 35 LGBTQ+-identified folks in this great state doing incredible work. Additionally, we have chosen to exclude people from this list who have received other awards from EqualityMaine, either in Bangor or Portland from 2015-2020. We have also excluded staff and board members from this list). We went right to the source and encouraged folks to see themselves the way that some of their biggest fans might, so many of the responses are in their own words. 

If there’s someone in your life that you think deserves a little gratitude for their work as a member of our robust LGBTQ+ community, go ahead and express it; ‘tis the season to say thanks, after all. #EQME35Mainers #LGBTQGratitudeList

Samaa Abdurraqib (she/her/hers, Portland-based, statewide scope of work):
“I love being a visible member of the Queer community in Portland. It’s important for me to to be out and be active in my community because I know that there are other Muslims who feel like they may not be able to outwardly express their sexuality and/or their gender if it doesn’t align with heteronormativity and cisgender life. As a Black Queer person, it’s important for me to use whatever cultural capital I have to create and hold space for other QTPOC. As a staff member at the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence, I’m working with partnering agencies and domestic violence resource centers to enhance support services for LGBQ and Trans survivors of intimate partner violence and also manage a flexible fund to support organizers and creatives of color, including QTPOC.”

 

 

Abby Rice (she/her/hers, Bangor): 
“I’m a bookseller at the Briar Patch, an independent bookstore in Bangor. The last few years have seen an incredible increase in the amount of books for kids and teens with inclusive characters, especially in the LGBTQIA+ community. These books weren’t around when I was younger, and I want to make sure every kid and teen has the chance to “find themselves” in a book the way I didn’t get to. We started off this year’s Pride in Bangor with a book talk night, where we went over some of my favorite books with queer main characters. It was such a hit that we spun it off into a monthly book club! My hope is that the Briar Patch and our book club become a safe space for LGBTQ+ teens in the Bangor area, a place where they get to be themselves in a way they don’t get to at school or even with some of their friends.” Check out her book club at www.facebook.com/ThornBooks

 

 

Jimmy Lucibello (he/him/his, Ogunquit):
Jimmy Lucibello has been an active advocate in the fight against AIDS for more than 30 years and is currently on the Board of Directors for Frannie Peabody Center. Jimmy received the 2010 Cameron Duncan Award, which recognizes service to the community living with AIDS and, in 2013, was recognized as one of the “The POZ 100” unsung heroes in the fight against AIDS. Jimmy has been both an organizer and the top individual fundraiser of the Southern Maine AIDS 5K Walk/Run each year since its inception. Jimmy also worked tirelessly on both marriage equality campaigns and currently runs the facebook page GAY OGT. See his work with Frannie Peabody Center at www.peabodycenter.org

 

 

 

Grayling Cunningham (he/him/his, Lewiston-Auburn):
“I have been working with Outright LA helping to cultivate safe and affirming spaces for LGBTQ+ youth ages 12-21 for over 13 years. I transport and support youth at prides, proms, lgbtq hikes, affirming photo shoots, and other LGBTQ+ related events!  I have also served on the Advisory board for 7 years, and helped run the day-to-day marketing. I have been hosting the Lewistunning Dragapalooza for 10 of its 11 years, an annual fundraiser for Outright LA. I advocate for all kinds of LGBTQ+ folks in the Lewiston-Auburn area, through connecting folks with services, and or friends. I also started the LGBTQ+ community page for Lewiston-Auburn. Most importantly to me,  I have the honor to make a difference for the youth in our community. They inspire me every day and I’m glad that I can be a positive person in their lives.” See his work with Outright LA at www.outrightLA.org

 

 

Patricia Peard (she/her/hers, Cumberland Foreside):
“I worked on all of the legal and legislative/referendum campaigns to get the Maine Human Rights Act amended to include sexual orientation as a protected category. We were also able to get the definition of sexual orientation to include gender identity and expression which was an important issue I fought hard to achieve in 2005. I also worked on the Executive Committees of all the campaigns to achieve marriage equality in Maine. The final victory in the referendum campaign was a real thrill especially because everyone told us we couldn’t do it. As an attorney, I also worked on cases to achieve second parent adoption so that our children would have all of the protections of having two parents. This work started in 1992 and continued through my retirement in 2019. All of this work has been a great privilege for me because of the importance of equality but also because of all the wonderful people with whom I got to work.” 

 

 

Brandy Brown (she/her/hers, Portland):
Brandy is the Gender Clinic Program Manager, Maine Medical Partners, A program of The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital. The Gender Clinic is the only comprehensive pediatric gender program in Northern New England.  

“As the program manager, I have the opportunity to improve program quality and practice to the development of a sustainable program supporting gender diverse individuals throughout Maine. In order to do this, I am collaborating with colleagues within MaineHealth and around the world, as well as with leaders throughout the state, to develop a strategic plan that moves comprehensive care beyond pediatrics - to support gender diverse Mainers throughout their lifespan. I have helped to create and lead an Equitable Care workgroup at MMC, which focuses on identifying policy and practice changes needed to provide equitable care for gender and sexual minorities within the overall medical healthcare system.  This has led to increased tools and training for staff at all levels of practice. I continue to work with NASW as the current Maine President and Chair of the LGBTQ+ Advocacy committee and look for opportunities to be involved in social justice policy and practice changes. The work is as challenging as it is rewarding; I feel privileged as a member of the LGBTQ+ community to utilize personal experience as well as professional social work practice skills to navigate and overcome systemic barriers within the healthcare system.“ Follow her work at www.MMC.org/TheGenderClinic

 

Ophelia Hu Kinney (she/her/hers, Maine-based, national/international scope of work):
“I work in the deep, wide intersection of LGBTQ justice and Christian community, serving on the staff of Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN). At RMN, we equip and mobilize members of a global denomination to pursue LGBTQ justice and inclusion in the Church. Through grassroots organizing, political advocacy and legislative efforts, and the work of changing hearts and minds, we are leaning into a future where all of a queer God’s children can enjoy the fullness of community, opportunity, and spiritual agency. I run our Communications. Locally, I also conduct trainings and workshops for churches and communities interested in taking the next step toward becoming fully LGBTQ inclusive, and I blog about faith, sexuality, race, and theology. I’m certainly not the only person doing this work, but I feel immensely grateful to be in the midst of it. This work is important to me because I’m a queer person of faith, and I understand the power that faith communities wield in withholding or creating a safer, more liberative world for us all. My faith is hard-won, and I’m a better Christian because of my queerness. Faith communities with a heart for LGBTQ justice have a responsibility and an opportunity to be loud and proud of their inclusive posture for the sake of marginalized peoples and for the sake of their spiritual integrity.“
 

Blake Hayes (he/him/his, Portland-based, statewide scope of work):
“I love MCing, attending, or helping organize various community events and fundraisers. I do feel my most important contribution is visibility. Being out on the air, reaching into the homes (and closets!) and conversations of many Maine families has an important impact on both out and closeted LGBTQ+ Mainers and sends the message that we are just like our straight counterparts. It’s a reminder that ‘we’re here’ and we are a lot more similar than we are different.” Follow his work at Coast931.com
 

 

 

 

 

Rob Jackson (he/him/his, Orono):
“I’m so fortunate to lead the team at the University of Maine Rainbow Resource Center, which has given me the opportunity to provide Safe Zone and inclusion trainings to various campus and community groups around the state. We also coordinate some truly amazing events, including our annual conference in partnership with EqualityMaine, The Q. As Carrie the One, I’ve been able to help organize the largest campus drag show in the state, and we’re going even bigger next year! I’ve also been able to bring more drag to the Bangor/Orono area, including a highly successful Halloween party to raise funds for Health Equity Alliance. I believe drag is an incredible vehicle for creating conversations around inclusive practices and dialogue, and I’m proud to take every opportunity to use Carrie to meet folx where they’re at, connect with young people in every corner of Maine, and help folx give themselves permission to explore and experiment with gender in their own ways.” Follow his work at www.carrietheone.com and/or www.umaine.edu/lgbtq
 

Jace Viner (he/him/his, Bar Harbor):
“For the past couple years I’ve been helping to organize the Bar Harbor Pride Festival with a handful of dedicated and hard-working individuals. I’ve had so much fun putting together a weekend to celebrate our diverse LGBTQIA+ community on Mount Desert Island. The queer* community here is not large, but is absolutely incredible and as a queer and trans man, I’m so grateful to be able to help create spaces where folks feel safe, seen, and excited to participate.”

 

 

 

 

Steven Bull (he/him/his, Lewiston):
“I was active here in Maine at the beginning of what was called gay liberation, co-founding the Wilde-Stein Club in 1973 at the University of Maine, Orono as well as the Maine Gay Task Force which grew out of the first Maine Gay Symposium which I also chaired in April, 1974. Currently I chair the advisory committee for the LGBTQ+ Collection at the Jean Byers Center for Diversity in Maine at the University of Southern Maine and co-host a weekly radio talk show, OUT Cast, at WMPG 90.9 FM, community radio at USM. I have been an activist my entire adult life with a deep conviction in fighting for social justice. As a teen, I was greatly impacted by the Black Power, civil rights, women’s and anti-war movements which all contributed to my political consciousness. My subsequent embrace of the liberating ideals of the original Gay Liberation Front which emerged from the Stonewall Uprising was simply an expansion of my developing world view.”

 

 

Nathan Galvez (he/him/his, Topsham):
“As a board member and graphic artist for Cast Aside Productions, I join the directors in their mission to create transformative theatre in the Portland area. This year, our season concept was to present work with casts exclusively made up of women, genderqueer, and transgender people in an attempt to subvert gender power dynamics and examine the stories in a different light. Over the last 4 years that I’ve worked with Cast Aside, we’ve mounted 20+ productions featuring an array of LGBTQ+ performers, musicians, and crew. I’ve served as the Art Director for the Mainer News Cooperative since its inception in May 2019, and for its previous iteration as The Bollard since June 2015. Mainer specializes in investigative reporting and exposing injustices against the oppressed communities and minorities throughout the state. I’m proud to work for Mainer because it is a local news organization that sees us, seeks to protect us, and helps amplify our voices to tell our own stories. I’m also fortunate to have been able to participate as a freelance graphic designer in the rebranding and new public face for the historic Blackstones.“ Follow Nathan’s work at castasideproductions.com and mainernews.com

 

Geo Neptune (they/them/theirs, Motahkomikuk (Indian Township)):
“As an artist, educator, and drag queen, I see all of my work as a reflection of my identity as an indigenous queer person. My visibility as a non-binary femme and willingness to share with others the importance of reclaiming Two-Spirit traditions within Native communities is a theme that shows through all that I do, and my goal is to contribute to a world where future 2SLGBTQ+ people don’t have to fight so hard to find acceptance. Ultimately, I hope that through the preservation of language and cultural knowledge and the sharing of Two-Spirit traditions within Indigenous nations will contribute to future Two-Spirit youth’s abilities to feel empowered through embracing their identities.”

 

 

 

 

Wendy Chapkis (she/her/hers or they/them/theirs, Portland):
“I’ve been a Professor of Sociology and Women & Gender Studies at USM since 1995 (I have also served as Director of the Women & Gender Studies Program and Chair of the Sociology Department). I love introducing students to feminist, queer, and social justice perspectives in the USM classroom. I’m proud of my affiliation with the Equality Community Center In Portland where I currently serve on the organizational advisory committee; I have also served on the Board of Maine Initiatives. From 2016 to 2019, I served as the Faculty Scholar for the LGBTQ+ Collection of the Jean Byers Sampson Center for Diversity in Maine. In that capacity, I founded the “Querying the Past: Maine LGBTQ Oral History Project” (2016 – present). As part of that project, I worked with local film maker Betsy Carson on a documentary short film on the role of gay bars in the creation of queer community featuring short interviews with members of the Southern Maine LGBTQ community; rough cuts of the film have been screened at One Longfellow (June 2018); Portland Museum of Art (September 2018); Portland Public Library (June 2019). I am deeply committed to linking the university to the community through programming and community based research. I also received the incredible honor of being selected as one of Pride Portland’s Grand Marshalls in June 2019. I’m also a writer who has published 3 books: Beauty Secrets: women and the politics of appearance (South End Press: 1986); Live Sex Acts: women performing erotic labor (Routledge: 1997); Dying to Get High: marijuana as medicine (New York University Press: 2008). In addition, I’ve written many articles including “Performing without a Net? Safer-Sex in Porn” (in Sex Matters: The Sexuality and Society Reader 2018); “Sex Workers” in New Sexualities Studies 2011); “Soft Glove, Punishing Fist” in Regulating Sex: the Politics of Intimacy and Identity, 2005); “The Ugly Dyke” (in Looking Queer 1998). Writing about gender and sexuality - and other questions of inequality, injustice, creative resistance - feels like a critical contribution to make to our community.“ Follow Wendy’s work at https://usm.maine.edu/sociology/wendy-chapkis-phd

Kailey Partin (she/her/hers, Portland):
“I have worked create a safe and welcoming space for the LGBTQIA+ community in the ever popular craft beer industry. I am the Director of Branding and Hospitality at Rising Tide Brewing Company and I work with the owners, Heather and Nathan Sanborn to help create a safe space for everyone. We fly a progressive Pride flag (Philly Pride Flag+Trans Pride Colors) every day, every June we sell a limited edition Pride shirt in support of EQME and MaineTrans Net, throughout the year host a variety of events and fundraisers to support the diverse community here in Portland. I felt a loss of queer spaces here in Portland and being able to change that even just a little bit is really rewarding.” Follow her work at kaileylynnpartin.com or risingtidebrewing.com

 

 

 

Susie Bock (she/her/hers, Portland):
“In the spring of 1999, I was hired by the University of Southern Maine to head its new Special Collections department, including the Jean Byers Sampson Center for Diversity in Maine, and its LGBTQ+ Collection, formed in 1997. The LGBQT+ Collection collects and preserves the history of Maine’s LGBTQ+ communities. After two decades of my stewardship, the collection is the largest, most comprehensive resource of primary materials. It is Maine’s LGBTQ+ Collection. I am proud of empowering these communities by making their history visible.” Follow her work at https://usm.maine.edu/library/specialcollections/lgbt-overview

 

 

 

Andy Bossie (he/him/his, the Katahdin Region)
“Being gay showed me the incredible power of community to change the world! I got involved in the the 2005 people’s veto while in college, organizing volunteers and other college students to help protect our non-discrimination law at the ballot. We won and the possibilities seemed endless (still do, really)! I went on to work with young people and concerned citizens from that effort to create the Opportunity Maine Tax Credit: a first-in-the-nation law to make higher education more affordable. I played a small role in the marriage efforts in 2009 (pissed that we lost - protests galore!) and 2012 (Maine leads!). I also served as the head of the Maine AIDS Alliance, securing funding and policy change to address the epidemic, including support for needle exchange programs. From 2011 to 2017, I ran Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, working with thousands of Maine people to create a more true democracy through reforms like public financing of elections and ranked choice voting. Today, it’s an honor and privilege to work to advance our newest public lands as the Executive Director of Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters. I grew up in Caribou and was the first student to come out in my high school; it would only be a few years later that I would step into the EQME offices (in the Cinamon Building) for the first time. Little did I know that being gay would help me meet people bold enough to dream of a better tomorrow and brave enough to make it happen. I haven’t stopped since.” Follow his work at https://www.friendsofkww.org/about/staff/

 

Kent Wotton (he/him/his, Aroostook County):
Kent Wotton has been a tireless advocate for the LGBTQ+ community and people living with HIV for as long as anyone can remember. Kent was instrumental in continuing to build and convene the Winter Gathering for People Living with HIV in Northern Maine – an area which is not only geographically isolated, but also where people are more often silent about their status. Kent is also a member of the Houlton chapter of PFLAG, helping to support LGBTQ+ youth in Aroostook County. Kent sits on the Client Advisory Board for Health Equity Alliance where he works to further advocate for people living with HIV/AIDS all throughout the state. He also sits on the HIV Advisory Committee to the Maine Legislature and is a frequent speaker at World AIDS Day events around the state.

 

 

Elyse Segovias (she/her/hers, Lewiston):
“I am an out partner of a female-owned law firm in Lewiston. My work includes representing LGBTQ clients in divorce, parental rights, protection from abuse, and adoption matters. That has also included adoptions for LGBTQ youth or issues related to those youth in connection with family matters cases, or supporting LGBTQ parents seeking to adopt in Maine. I am also active in my school district to advocate on behalf of transgender students that they feel safer and accepted in classrooms.” Follow her work at www.andruckilaw.com

 

 

 

Osgood (they/them/theirs, Portland-based, statewide scope of work):
Osgood is the executive director of Portland Outright; a youth-led, organization that supports underserved members of the queer and trans community, building the power of LGBTQ+ young people in Maine and in grassroots movements for justice and liberation. Under Osgood’s leadership, Portland Outright has drawn national attention for their work on juvenile justice reform, calling for the closure of Maine’s last remaining youth prison and working to end the criminalization of young people through a multi-issue lens of racial, economic, and LGBTQ+ justice. Going into their sixth year with Portland Outright, Osgood continues to center the powerful queer and trans young people in our community, investing in both their leadership and survival. Portland Outright is modeled on generations of queer and trans people living in the margins who created deep abundance and rich networks of support from very little. Osgood embodies this tradition in their work with the next generation of LGBTQ+ leaders. Follow their work at https://portlandoutright.org/

 

Gray Jones (he/him/his, Auburn-based, statewide scope of work):
“I am the Associate Director of MaineTransNet, and as such am the guy behind the scenes who keeps the gears turning. I have a hand in coordinating almost all of our programming, from our smallest support groups to our largest events. Speaking of those events, I am the architect behind MTN’s annual Transgender Wellness Summit, which is coming up on its third year, our annual Portland Talent Show, and our first ever gala fundraiser: The Brick Awards Pancake Brunch. I love the scope of my work — some days walking to the courthouse with a nervous trans person to help them file for a name change, and some days giving testimony to a legislative committee that could affect the lives of every trans person in the state. I get to engage in both the personal and the big picture, and that is a wonderful privilege.”

 

 

Marpheen Chann (he/him/his, Portland):
“Some have referred to me as an activist, but I tend to prefer being called a community advocate — specifically on intersectionality, inclusion and equity with a focus on LGBTQ and Immigrants’ rights. In most everything I do, I bring my advocacy with me, whether it’s in schools as a human rights educator for the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine, through my writing (book coming in near future), or my political and community involvement. The major project I’m working on currently is helping the Cambodian Community Association get up and running.” Follow Marpheen on FB: Facebook.com/YesWeChann, Insta: @marpheen, and Twitter: @marpheenchann or at www.marpheenchann.com

 

 

 

Katie Jillson (no pronouns, Springvale):
“As the president of the QSA at USM, I work hard every day to create an environment that is safe for our LGBT+ students. I focus on increasing education on diversity issues in our staff, as well as facilitating discussions between our students and people in power at our university to make sure that queer needs are being met. Currently, I’m working on designing new LGBT spaces in new buildings being made on all three campuses, as well as making the new buildings disability inconclusive and gender inclusive as well.”

 

 

 

 

Rebecca Deschaine (she/her/hers, Bath):
“I advise a group at Morse High School called SAFE (Students Advocating for Equality). I think it is incredibly important that LGBTQ+ students have a safe and welcoming space in school. I work to create and maintain that space. I look for positive ways to engage the school community and help both students and staff be comfortable talking and asking about LGBTQ+ issues. I am approachable and I think that people know I will do anything I can to support them.”

 

 

 

 

Margaret O’Connell (she/her/hers, Androscoggin and Somerset counties):
“I’m a city girl. But after marrying my fabulous country girl wife I found myself spending lots of time in rural Somerset County. Over the last few years, the school system here has been entrenched in a deeply bitter fight over its Indian mascot. It came to my attention how this controversy was negatively affecting the LGBTQ students at the Skowhegan High School. Around the same time, I became aware of some gay senior citizens in the area and thought that it would be really great to get everyone together to build community. So with the help of some wonderful allies we created a new group called LGBTQ Somerset Social: a first-of-it’s-kind multi-generational social group in Skowhegan for LGBTQ people and allies. We meet and share food and discuss local issues that are unique to our community and how to make things better through local activism. We’re also planning fun outings for this winter like bowling and ice fishing! Social connections are so important to human beings. As LGBTQ individuals in rural Maine we face the additional challenge of isolation. My goal is to mentor future leaders to continue on with the Somerset Social. Below is some of my previous and current activites within the community: Equality Maine Board Member (former), Founder of LGBTQ Somersert Social, Volunteer for Pride Portland, Volunteer for Dyke March, Organizer for Dykes on Bikes”

 

LaLa Drew (they/them/theirs, Portland and Lewiston):
“Showing up as black and non-binary and queer consistently, unapologetically, in a state like Maine, perpetuates change. Using my body to disrupt spaces which do not look like and have not been set up for me, is a powerful tool to affect change. Creating community is also a large part of the work I do, it means forming relationships, collaborating, eating, and organizing with folks whose paths intersect with mine. From creating a poetry night for QTPOC and Femme PoC, to hosting tarot nights in my bedroom, building community is a slow burn I am committed to, it is the crux of how we create change. Lastly, (firstly?) my art is woven through all of these things. Whether I am performing naked on a stage to VRY BLK by Jamila Woods, facilitating a poetry workshop, or bringing black, queer representation to a film, I try to show up, wearing as many identities as I can. Each time I do, I show myself and the world around me that my black, my non-binary, my queer, contain multitudes and I push back on society’s conditioning, encouraging others to do so too.”

 

 

Rabbi Darah Lerner (she/her/hers, Northern and Downeast Maine):
“I have worked consistently for LGBTQ inclusion and leadership, rights and responsibilities including servicing on the board of The Religious Coalition Against Discrimination (educate to change hearts and minds; promote LGBT safety, equality and inclusion; and advocate for social justice in ways that make LGBT concerns visible), the Maine marriage equality campaign, and Civil Rights Campaign. I teach at UMaine about Religion and LGBTQ issues, serve on the Board of the Wilson Center (independent, progressive religious & spiritual voice on campus. Our most central value is the equality of all people – we welcome people of all genders, gender identities, sexual orientations, races, religions, ethnicities, abilities, and economic backgrounds). I also support the work of members’ and friends’ involvement in LGBTQ events and organizations as a presence, teacher, advocate, and cheering squad.”

 

 

Rabbi Lily Solochek (they/them/theirs, Rockland):
“I am very proud to be Maine’s first non-binary rabbi. I serve as the spiritual leader of Adas Yoshuron Synagogue in Rockland. I create space for LGBTQ+ people in the Jewish community at large, and teach Jewish tradition and text through an LGBTQ+ lens. My wife, Lanni, and I have taught LGBTQ+ inclusion at the Maine Conference for Jewish Life, bringing forward the queer voices from our ancient sacred texts in order to build more inclusive communities today.” Read more at http://mainewomenmagazine.com/women-in-the-pulpit/

 

 

 

 

Rabbi Rachel Isaacs (she/her/hers, Waterville):
“I am proud to serve the Central Maine community and Colby College as a rabbi and professor of Jewish Studies. I provide pastoral care for the LGBTQ+ community in central Maine, and am grateful to model Jewish queer family in the more rural areas of our state, including providing guidance that gives perspective to the unique identity of moral and cultural ethnic identities. To me, my queer identity and Jewish faith do not need to be mutually exclusive and in fact, the intersections between those identities is a place of celebration.” Follow her work at www.colby.edu/jewishlife and http://mainewomenmagazine.com/women-in-the-pulpit/

 

 

 

Rabbi Jared H. Saks (he/him/his, South Portland):
“In my professional capacity as the rabbi of Congregation Bet Ha’am, I have the pleasure of working with a variety of LGBTQ people in the Jewish community through life cycle events, holiday celebrations, worship, and other congregational activities. I am a key organizer of the Jewish Community of Southern Maine’s presence in Pride Portland each June and facilitate a Saturday morning Pride Shabbat service on the morning of the Pride Parade. I was fortunate to find Jewish communities who welcomed me with open arms exactly as I am from my earliest years in Jewish life as a child up until this day. I feel a sense of responsibility to pay that love and welcome forward.” Follow his work at www.bethaam.org

 

 

 

 

Rabbi Lisa Vinikoor (she/her/hers, Bath, Brunswick, and Midcoast):
“I serve as the rabbi and Jewish spiritual leader of Beth Israel Congregation and Bowdoin College Hillel. Jewish tradition teaches that all of humanity is created, b’tzelem elohim, which means we are created in God’s image. As such we have the tremendous responsibility and opportunity to treat each other with kindness, compassion and love and to be God’s partners in working for justice. I am proud to serve a diverse Jewish community and to work alongside many inspiring leaders in striving to create a welcoming, supportive and compassionate community for all.” Follow her work at https://www.bethisraelbath.org/, http://students.bowdoin.edu/hillel/ and http://mainewomenmagazine.com/women-in-the-pulpit/

 

 

 

Tim Stentiford (he/him/his, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Arundel):
Elected RSU21 School Board of Directors (2019-2022). Campaigned on a platform of “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” in a district serving over 2,400 students and 500 staff. Out and proud elected Maine official. “Inclusion Project” founder. Grassroots community activist organization inspired by race-based harassment incidents and galvanized to unite allies to speak up, share, and work together to protect members of our protected classes. The Inclusion Project has a Facebook group with 200 active members. (Go to “Kennebunk Inclusion Project”—please join!) Department of Justice Community SPIRIT Council, Steering Committee member. Trained by the DOJ’s Community Relations Service in Washington, the SPIRIT Council was formed locally to help our three communities prevent and respond to bias, discrimination, bullying, and hate for all protected classes: race, gender, gender identity, gender equity, orientation, faith, disability, color, and national origin. Launched the “Inclusion Hub”, a forum designed to connect people working with groups, programs and events for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Email us at info [at] inclusionhubmaine [dot] com. LGBTQ Small Business Owner. Owner of Motorland Classic Cars in Arundel. Long-time host business for student internships. Currently working with Kennebunk High School student with an out trans student intern at our Motorland TV Studio at the Maine Classic Car Museum. Follow his work at https://www.facebook.com/groups/KennebunkInclusionProject/

 

LK Weiss (she/her/hers, Portland):
Since its inception in 2010, LK has made her company Portland Design Co a welcoming space and learning resource for LGBTQI+ individuals interested in art and design. Soon, she and her business partner Abby hope to offer a “summer camp” for women, immigrants, LGBTQI+ and other underrepresented communities to change the face of design and advertising in Southern Maine and beyond. Follow her work at PortlandDesignCo.com

 

 

 

 

Arlo Wheeler Hennessey (he/him/his or they/them/theirs, Portland):
“For the past 3 years, I have had the privilege to organize for the Southern Maine Workers’ Center, building deep relationships with workers around issues that matter to them. In my role, we fought for a paid sick days municipal ordinance that took almost 3 years and unfortunately did not pass as expected. My biggest take away was that when the fight gets long, make sure to focus on what matters; how are your people? I have learned that prioritizing relationships over outcomes is key: I don’t care about winning, I care about HOW you win. Organizing is sharing food, making inside jokes, and elbowing your way in and not only making space but making sure that space is comfortable. As a QTPOC raised in poverty, places like City Hall or the Augusta legislature are not spaces in which I traditionally feel at home and that’s something that connects me to many of the people that I organize with. It’s easy to feel like a duck out of water. What grounds and centers me is going in to those spaces with people I love & trust knowing that our fight has the moral high ground and everything else falls into place. When you add food, 2-3 people knitting, children, dinosaur & Elvis costumes, birthday hats, and passing the mic to the people who actually know what they are talking about from lived experience, you have a winning formula. It doesn’t matter if the press gets your pronouns wrong, or report dozens when there were actually 100 people, or if it’s sleeting rain and 11:30 at night, for a little while you got to make the democratic process something you actually feel good participating in and that makes all the difference. By the way there is now a statewide PTO policy that goes into effect in 2021 - not earned paid sick days but its close. Even though it is not exactly what we wanted, we at least got heard by the biggest power holders in the state and if you google search ”paid sick days Portland Maine“ images our people are front and center and I am SO proud of that.” Follow Arlo’s work at https://maineworkers.org/

 

Danielle Dior (she/her/hers, Portland):
“The official House Mother of Blackstones (formally the Entertainment Coordinator), I have lived in Portland my whole adult life and have been performing regularly at Blackstones since 2004. In February 1996, I starting living my life full-time as female and that was when my journey was just beginning. Since that time, we’ve seen things on some fronts are getting better for trans people. The bravest and more courageous thing a trans person can do is live their true and authentic life. When your brain and your heart don’t match your physical body, it can be a total mindf**k. For me, I had no other option but to be true to myself and live my life, no longer merely existing: I couldn’t live any other way. In 2013, I became clean and sober and currently have 6 years free from alcohol and drugs. The self-loathing I had experienced all my life has melted away because of that. I’ve started to love myself and that’s the greatest gift you can give yourself. Be kind to yourselves and others because we are a minority within a minority. I have seen a lot and been through a lot during my time in Portland, especially since 1996, but a message of uplifting, courage, strength, and hope is one I’d rather send.” Said a Blackstones patron about Danielle, “When you step foot into the bar, whether it’s for a drag show, trivia, karaoke, vigils, or afternoon pool, Danielle’s kind and open heart makes it easy for people to be their true selves when they’re in her presence.” 

Oronde Cruger (he/him/his, Portland-based, national scope of work): 
“My work with Speak About It is all about encouraging folks to find and use their voice.  While this is important across all identities, I think it is especially important to empower folks with identities that are often erased or marginalized to dare to be seen and heard.  I have done this by intentionally bringing these identities into our programming and presenting them not as tokenized special identities but rather as parts of the full human experience.  For example, we have a program that centers on the messages that we get about sex and gender from popular culture and this hinges largely on including a critical dissection of gender identity vs expression and sexual orientation.  Additionally, LGBTQ+ folks are frequently left out of sex ed narratives so using inclusive language and information is huge in helping to encourage feelings of belonging and acceptance for oneself and from one’s community.  When you exist in a marginalized identity, it is easy to internalize the emotional violence from the outside world and create a storm within yourself.  I comb through our programming and go to great lengths to train our educators to not use language that assumes gender, sexuality, or, really, any pieces of personal identity.  It is important to hold space for all folks and to encourage all generations to not only welcome other identities but to ask them to step forward and shine brightly.” Learn more at www.speakaboutitonline.org or on Facebook or Instagram

Kael Parker (he/him/his) and Natasha Nolan (she/her/hers, Sanford): 
“Natasha Nolan is a queer femme identified mom, artist and small business owner who came out at 14 while living in Kennebunk. Kael Parker is a trans man who has been active in the queer community in Maine for twenty years. We are raising our family in the small southern Maine community of Springvale. 

Along with other members of the volunteer group Project CommUnity, we host the annual Sanford Pride Picnic- a party in the park downtown and a rare opportunity for the community around Sanford to celebrate queerness in all its forms. The Pride Picnic is a grassroots event powered by volunteers, donations, and a shoestring budget. We aim to create a day that represents and meets the needs of the local community. Lunch is provided free to everyone, as well as free fresh produce distribution. Sanford High School GTSA and Civil Rights Team members help with set up and decorations, and entertainment is provided by performers from within the local queer community. Organizations and service providers that work with the LGTBQ+ community share information and resources. For some people in Sanford, this may be their first time learning about some of what is available locally and across the state. It may be the first pride event that they have ever attended, or their first time bringing their friends or family into a queer-positive space. It is important to us to show that queer people and families exist and thrive outside of urban areas. This event has been widely attended and enjoyed by the whole community. We invite everyone to join us on the first Saturday in June!”

Maureen (Mo) AuCoin (she/her/hers, Hallowell): 
“As a founding member of Hallowell Pride, I aim to help make the City of Hallowell welcoming for all, especially members of the LGBTQ+ community. As a City Councilor, it is important to me to foster Hallowell’s strong history of diversity and acceptance through our Comprehensive Planning process and by increasing the visibility of this important cultural value.  I hope that this will ensure that the next generation of Hallowellians are free to be themselves. I am also a proud member of the Emerge Maine class of 2020 and value opportunities to enhance my efficacy as an advocate for my community.” 

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