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Amidst anti-LGBTQ+ voices, Windham to hold its first ever Pride event

A dancer waves the pride flag.
Carol Bousquet
Maine Public
A dancer waves the pride flag.

Windham will host its first ever Pride celebration on Sunday. Organized by Windham & Raymond Pride, Together We Rise celebrates all LGBTQ people in the Lakes Region. Activities scheduled include bracelet making, a book reading featuring a noted lesbian author, and various food trucks.

But the effort hasn't been without hurdles or opposition.

The Windham Public Library is running a story time for children during Together We Rise. The library’s director Jenn Alvino Wood said her staff has had to field complaints over the phone, in person, and on social media.

"The reaction was not unexpected," said Wood, "but I feel that we are doing our job serving the community. That’s what makes me feel comfortable about us being at the event: we’re doing our job, and we’re serving the community."

The organizers also planned an all-ages drag show featuring drag queens from the local area. However, the group backed out after a man approached one of the queens and warned her about a threat related to the event.

Windham Police Chief Kevin Schofield said their department investigated and found no evidence of any violent threats. Despite this, OUT Maine executive director Sue Campbell said it’s not unreasonable for LGBTQ people to feel unsafe while in similarly public situations.

"[An LGBTQ person can] feel afraid even though the police may have said, 'Well, we looked into this, and we didn't see anything,'" said Campbell. "There's still a level of like, 'Can you guarantee that?' We [as LGBTQ people are] living in this space where we have to be thinking about safety all the time."

Research suggests LGBTQ people are four times more likely to be victims of violent crime than non-LGBTQ people.

Captain Jason Burke of the Windham Police's patrol services said the organizers have hired officers within the department to serve as event security. Together We Rise begins at 11 a.m. on June 2 outside Windham Town Hall.

Nick Song is Maine Public's inaugural Emerging Voices Fellowship Reporter.

Originally from Southern California, Nick got his start in radio when he served as the programming director for his high school's radio station. He graduated with a degree in Journalism and History from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University -- where he was Co-News Director for WNUR 89.3 FM, the campus station.