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”