On November 6th about 90 youth and adult allies rallied together in Lewiston/Auburn Maine to show other queer and trans youth that they are not alone in their struggle to survive their teenage years. This rally, titled "You Are Not Alone!," was unlike similar rallying cries around the nation that simply suggest we wear purple to address the issue of anti-queer/trans violence and prejudice or the idiocy propagated by the "It Gets Better" project that primarily tells youth to just wait it out and move to the big city as soon as they can instead of demanding social justice here and now.
In Lewiston/Auburn folks were moving beyond the generic demand to end bullying and made concrete recommendations to end the structural and institutional violence against young queer and trans people that makes the climate of bullying not only possible, but permissible.
The rally was hosted by Outright L/A, quite possibly Maine's oldest, continuously running queer and trans youth serving organization, at the Unitarian Universalist church in Auburn. Speakers at the event ranged from parents of transgender youth to up and coming youth drag performers who addressed a wide range of issues pertaining to anti-queer and anti-trans violence. Some youth focused on how they cope with their everyday experiences of homohatred while others focused on broader demands to end the systemic violence against queer and trans youth in schools.
- Queer and trans inclusive comprehensive sexuality education in schools
- Inclusion of LGBTQ figures in school curriculum for history, social studies, english and the arts
- Procedures in place for students to address grievances about homophobia and transphobia in school coming from faculty, staff, or students and a restorative justice model to mediate and resolve issues when they arise.
- Installing single occupancy/gender neutral bathrooms or locker rooms to accommodate transgender students.
In addition to the rally a wonderful pamphlet was created by Outright L/A that includes a list of individual actions people can take to end anti-queer/trans violence as well a list of current resources for LGBTQ young people. Folks attending the rally were also encouraged to participate in a creative project addressing LGBTQ suicide that will be on display in the front windows of the Lewiston Public Library for the month of November.
Photos by Jaime McLeod