LEWISTON — For Erin Myers of Lewiston, attending Great Falls Pride festivities this year was a necessity.

“People need to know we’re here. We’ve always been here,” Myers said.

Myers is concerned about a couple of bills being proposed in Maine that would limit the rights of transgender people.

“I feel like people need to show up this year, especially because of the laws that are being passed to suppress us and ban our existence,” Myers said.

Great Falls Pride was back for its sixth year Saturday afternoon with a march from Festival Plaza in Auburn to Simard-Payne Memorial Park in Lewiston, where there were speeches and a story time for children hosted by Pride L/A.

Lewiston hosted its first pride parade in 2017, organized by Pride L/A, a grassroots organization that aims to promote community and liberation for all in Lewiston and Auburn.


“Part of what the space is for is that celebration of joy,” Pride L/A secretary Tu Biederman said. “We’re not just surviving and getting by. We’re coming together as a community to celebrate how much we love living here and how much we love living with each other.”

While Pride L/A doesn’t engage in political action as an organization, its work contributes to changing societal opinions and acceptance, according to Pride L/A co-Chair Alex Pine, who leads the group with Sasha Vurnakes.

“We’re creating space, we’re building community, we’re bringing people together,” Pine said. “And hopefully, that will make it so that people realize who is being affected by this. And that the people who are being affected aren’t a threat. They aren’t dangerous. They’re not the other. They’re your neighbor, they’re your sibling, they’re your relatives, they’re your friends.”

Among the speakers at the celebration were Cory Nicholson from Equity Buckfield, who gave the opening remarks, Lewiston Mayor Carl Sheline, and Brax Henley from Equity Buckfield, who read community submissions on why pride is important.

Following speeches, a community meeting about getting involved with Pride L/A was held. Various dance performances were canceled due to rain.

Casey Knight and August Dalrymple marched in this year’s parade for the first time. Dalrymple remembered attending their first pride parade in Portland.


“I’m smiling at the size of this. It’s bringing back memories of when I was first marching,” Dalrymple said. “That was decades ago.”

Rebecca Adamson was also excited by what they saw at the event and signed up to volunteer at next year’s pride.

“We’re the second oldest state, in Maine, and we don’t see a lot of our elders here,” Adamson said. “A lot of them died during AIDS, but a lot of them might just not have a way to get here.”

Adamson hopes that next year there will be more support for young people and the older community.

“I’d love to see more of our young people in our schools and stuff like that represented,” Adamson said. “Because we know right now is a really hard time. Maine right now is still a fairly safe state, but I work with young people, and they’re terrified from what they hear about what’s going on in Florida.”

Florida is one of a growing number of states that have recently passed anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.


Currently, two bills before the Maine legislature propose anti-transgender policies.

The first, L.D. 678, would require all public school employees to obtain written consent from a student’s parent or legal guardian to use a name or pronouns that do not match the information listed on a student’s birth certificate.

The second bill, L.D. 930, would prevent students who are not biologically female from participating in interscholastic or intramural sports teams intended for “females,” “women” or “girls.”

Despite this, the majority of Maine’s legislators support LGBTQ+ rights, according to the Human Rights Campaign State Scorecard. In late May, Maine lawmakers backed L.D. 535, a bill that allows 16- and 17-year-olds to access gender-affirming health care without acquiring parental consent.

“Overall, the community is pretty supportive of what we do,” said Vurnakes, of Pride L/A. “We’ve been able to work with stakeholders in government, local businesses, talking to them about pride, and having them do promotional stuff for us.”

Rick Beaulé, president of the Lisbon Education Association, also attended the event in support of LGBTQ+ students. “We have a very strong stance on LGBTQIA+ rights, and making sure that students have safe places in schools where they are allowed to be themselves,” Beaulé said.

Beaulé also marched in support of friends, “who are just as human as the rest of us on this planet and deserve to be treated in the same way, with the same respect.”

Julie Dipietrantonio attended pride with their partner and dog, who was sporting a rainbow bowtie.

“We are glad that they have a celebration here and want to be a part of it,” Dipietrantonio said. “We’re proud and the dog is proud.”

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