Why Pride Month Matters

by Kyle Warnock, founder of Queerly ME

For many, in small towns especially, Pride is the one day a year that being visibly LGBTQ+ does not come with risk of harassment, abuse, or death due to the perception and disapproval of others. For many, it is the one day that we can gather greater in numbers than those outside of our community; it is the one day we can live in a truly authentic, unapologetic way, because there is safety in numbers. While we have gone through leaps and bounds to gain our rights, and to be able to be visible in a more accepting world, we have not made progress without troves of loss. In 2022 alone, 238 anti-LGBTQ bills have been filed in the U.S. That is three bills filed per day on average. A half of the bills target Transgender people and those seeking gender affirming medical care.

Our fight is not over. It is questionable if our fight will ever be over. But we stand strong in the face of adversity, and that same unified resilience has gotten us to where we are today. Today, we can host the first Pride in Brunswick, Maine. That small step shows profound progress in the state of Maine, and we are so excited to welcome it.

Brunswick has made a lot of headway in the past year regarding LGBTQ+ inclusivity. Pride celebrations aside, Queerly ME and Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust (BTLT) have been leading the charge in making the outdoors more LGBTQ+ inclusive in Brunswick and Topsham through year-rough, nature based, Queer-centered events. The outdoors have been historically unsafe for members of the LGBTQ+ community. It is not uncommon, even today, to fear encountering sentiments of disapproval or homophobia in remote outdoor areas, and fear how certain individuals may react to you based on how you look or who you are with. Beginning in fall 2021, Queerly ME and BTLT began their collaborative work to provide, and acknowledge the importance of, Queer-centered outdoor spaces. Together, they aspire to begin to break down that barrier, hoping that LGBTQ+ folks can feel safe, accepted, and comfortable walking the trails and participating in outdoor activities with their fellow community members. To learn more about some of their LGBTQ+-centered outdoor events, visit www.queerlyme.org or www.btlt.org.

Featured Photo: Anthony Matos – “Brunswick Pride 2022”

Heritage Harvest Dinner

By Lydia Coburn, Communications Coordinator

When we put up the raised garden beds by our Neptune Drive office last spring, the future was unknown. Over the summer, we had the pleasure of watching a variety of vegetables and flowers grow, as well as the creation of an enjoyable outdoor space for our New Mainer neighbors.

But what do you do with an abundance of fresh food and a growing community? You throw a party of course!

Wednesday October 20th, BTLT staff and board members, New Mainers of all ages, and mentors all joined together for a “Heritage Harvest Potluck.” Each guest brought a culinary dish that held a special place in their heart – tables were filled with food from Vietnam, China, Congo, Angola, Mexico, Rwanda, and Maine. We enjoyed freshly shucked oysters, Chinese chicken wings, apple pie, ceviche, fumbwa, chocolate cupcakes, Swedish meatballs, spring rolls, fufu, and so much more – not necessarily in that order!

ESL educator, and co-host of the event, Kelli Park shared her thoughts:

“The Harvest Heritage Dinner was more than just a dinner, it was a symbol of things to come for our increasingly diverse community in Midcoast Maine. The dinner featured recipes from all over the world and showed that being part of a thriving, welcoming community extends far beyond the geographic boundaries of our local towns and into the far reaches of the world. This collaborative community event was an example of the things that individuals can accomplish when they come together with an idea: to find ways to cultivate connections among individuals from all walks of life to promote a thriving multicultural community. 

“My goal is to continue to facilitate collaborative programming with active participation from my English language students, whose voices are invaluable to us as we navigate our changing community. My hope is that this is just the beginning. Thank you to everyone who made this event happen! I look forward to many more evenings like this in the future.”

Throughout the evening, I witnessed someone eat their first culinary caterpillar while someone else had their first raw oyster, taught a group of women how to make the perfect s’more, and watched kids make new friends (tag is a universal language).

The other universal language? Food. Here’s to sharing more meals with our new neighbors and community members!