June 19, 2013

Bill Nemitz: Backstory makes 'good' Portland slogan even better

By Bill Nemitz bnemitz@pressherald.com
Columnist

(Continued from page 1)

("I was writing erotica," recalled Preston. "But it so happened the letter in the machine just then was to Gerard Conley, then-president of the Maine Senate, thanking him for sponsoring a gay civil rights bill.")

Preston gladly found a new copy service. Around the same time, people began approaching him on the street and complimenting him for this or that piece he'd written.

"I would be puzzled because what they were referring to hadn't yet been published," he wrote.

Long story short, employees at the first print shop (who happened to be gay) had been making multiple copies of Preston's work, which they loved, and were passing them out to their friends.

Mused Preston, "Those pieces that had so offended the manager were circulating promiscuously through the city, and she was paying for it."

Portland then, of course, was far different from Portland now.

Back then, Preston boasted of "a gay pride parade, albeit small -- this is Maine, after all."

Last weekend, an estimated 10,000 people turned out for the 27th annual Southern Maine Pride Parade and Festival, which included the mass wedding of 10 gay and lesbian couples whose vows now are enshrined in state law.

At the same time, Portland's new slogan clearly applies not just to the gays and lesbians among us, but to the thousands who either were born here and stayed put, or migrated here and never left.

I proudly count myself among the latter. And as I sit here looking out my window at the sea gulls, the greenery, the Portland Observatory high atop Munjoy Hill, I'm hard-pressed to come up with a phrase that better captures what Preston once called this "remarkably vibrant" community.

So go ahead if you must and trash "Portland, Maine. Yes. Life's Good Here."

It ain't sexy like "What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas." It may lack the funk of "Keep Austin Weird" or the electricity of New York's "The City that Never Sleeps."

But it's true. Life is good here.

And John Preston, may he rest in peace, helped make it that way.

 

Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at:

bnemitz@pressherald.com

Twitter: @BillNemitz

 

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