Yarmouth’s Pride Picnic had a bigger turnout than expected on June 1, according to co-organizer Heather Abbott. Contributed / Martina Duncan

Celebrations for Pride Month, the commemoration every June to honor the LGBTQ+ community and the fight for LGBTQ+ rights, are traditionally the purview of urban centers — but the towns just north of Maine’s largest metropolitan area are also taking important steps to mark the month.

Yarmouth, in particular, has ramped up Pride activities, thanks largely to a town councilor.

First elected in 2020, Yarmouth Town Councilor Heather Abbott has made uplifting LGBTQ+ voices a core focus of her time in office. Last year, she spearheaded the town’s first resolution that officially established June as Pride month, and her reelection campaign this spring focused on her commitment to equality and inclusivity.

“So much on the national stage has been changing,” said Abbott, referencing a rise in attempts to restrict the rights of LGBTQ+ people around the country, but especially in Republican-led states – where conservative lawmakers have successfully advanced many restrictions on transgender people in the past few years.

“I want to see small towns like ours really step up and say that this is important to us,” she said. “We want to let people in our community know that they’re welcome here, that they’re important to us, and they’re safe to be who they are.”

This year, Pride in Yarmouth included a Pride Picnic on June 1, organized by Abbott and Gwen Matthews, the director of education and communications at the First Universalist Church of Yarmouth.


“It wound up being so much bigger than we thought it would be. It really came together. The more that word got out, the more people wanted to be involved,” Abbott said.

The event included performances by the Local Vocals from 317 Main Community Music Center, a diverse children’s book area, free mocktails, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, lawn games and other family activities.

A Pride Market, organized by the Gender Sexuality Alliance club at Yarmouth High School, returns for the second year on Thursday, June 13, at the Yarmouth Farmers Market. The high schoolers last year sold T-shirts and snow cones to raise money for the MaineTransNet, a trans-led community organization. This year’s beneficiary is OUT Maine, an organization that supports LGBTQ+ youth.

Next week, on Tuesday, June 18, a community fundraiser will be held at Brickyard Hollow Brewing Co. on Main Street, also to help support OUT Maine. A percentage of sales between 5 and 9 p.m. will go toward LGBTQ+ youth served by OUT Maine.

In Falmouth, residents are organizing the third annual Pride Walk, to be held Saturday morning starting at 9:30 a.m. at Village Park. In past years, members of Town Council have attended, including Councilor Janice de Lima, who told the Northern Forecaster that the point is largely to show that Falmouth is a welcoming community. According to de Lima, the walk is about a mile.

In Cumberland, five young Mainers read original poems at the OUTSpoken! Poetry Slam, an event for LGBTQ+ teens and allies, held at the Prince Memorial Library on June 5.


One of ninth grader Jocelyn O’Connor’s poems discussed what Pride means to them: “June, finally here. Everyone celebrates the end of school, but we have more to celebrate. It’s our month, our glorious month of joy.” The poem was both a meditation on the importance of LGBTQ+ Pride flags as well as a political critique of the traditional American flag.

Pride celebrations in Maine have not been immune to anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment. The town of Windham held its first Pride celebration this year, though a group of drag queens who had planned to perform at the event backed out following pushback from the community and a threatening encounter.

A Pride celebration at the Gorham Municipal Center last year drew a small group of protesters and there was also anti-LGBTQ+ hostility leading up to a Pride parade organized in the town of Unity last year.

“It’s so hard out in the world for queer kids,” said Jennifer Benham, the youth and teen librarian at Prince Memorial Library who helped put on the poetry event last week. Her goal is for the library and events like these to be “easy.”

“These kids love to celebrate Pride … it’s a big deal,” she added.

Town officials are also signaling support for Pride with visible markers.


Earlier this month, the Cumberland Town Council approved a motion to paint a rainbow crosswalk at the intersection of Tuttle Road and Main Street in honor of Pride Month.

Former Town Manager Bill Shane, who advocated for the crosswalk, recently told The Forecaster he thinks towns like Cumberland have a role to play in shaping the climate around LGBTQ+ issues.

“I think this is a local issue as much as it is a national issue. It’s fairness, equity and inclusion to all. It’s at the local level. It is local. So to me, (this crosswalk) is a good thing,” he said.

Community members had asked why the town wasn’t doing more to recognize Pride month, Shane said. He indicated that was part of the reason the town took this step.

A dedication event for the crosswalk was held Saturday. The Congregational Church in Cumberland hosted a service in honor of Pride at the Twin Brook Recreation.

In North Yarmouth, the Select Board recently voted to hang a Pride flag in the lobby of the North Yarmouth Community Center.

It’s the first time that North Yarmouth has taken that step, according to Select Board Vice Chair Andrea Berry.

“(The flag is) a small gesture that signals our town values and shares a message of welcome and recognition for all who call North Yarmouth home,” Berry wrote in an email.

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