A weekend of fun and educational activities for LGBTTTQQIAA HS youth hosted by students at a small university in Maine

Archive for the ‘Pride’ Category

Queer Pressure: An Evolution

Best season’s gift – Rainbow Ball Weekend moving to Mount Desert Island High School for this April (27-29) and April 2019.  The vision is to have the weekend move to another high school for two years after that and so on. Imagine the message high school students receive that is okay to be gay, straight, lesbian, trans, bi, ace, pan, agender, gender fluid, or whatever sexuality or gender label is preferred AND that this marginalized self is celebrated and valued in a school setting. Talk about queer pressure for schools to get on board! 😉  If you want to help us build this vision please consider donating.

I can be myself and be with the person I love without being scared.

If your financial situation allows we hope you will consider helping us sustain Rainbow Ball Weekend for the future. Every donation makes a difference, regardless of size, and will be gratefully received.  You can make a donation to Mt. Desert Island High School (designated for Rainbow Ball Weekend), 1081 Eagle Lake Rd, Bar Harbor, Me 04609. This donation is fully tax-deductible.  You can also give online at this link to Faithify, a free crowdfunding platform (or copy and paste to your browser  goo.gl/ZNFroh).  If you are unable to donate, please consider spreading the word to anyone you feel would be interested in helping.

Happy Holidays & Thanks for Your Support!

 

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Safety Dance

“It means a home that’s accepting that I don’t have and a weekend to have friends that won’t look at me differently. It means staying alive.”

2017 student attendee

The word safe means different things to different people. For minority folks, feeling safe is also a type of freedom – freedom of expression – freedom to be who you are without fear of physical abuse, emotional torment, and/or public shaming-humiliation-shunning. I’ve had my paws on over a thousand feedback comments for 10 years from Rainbow Ball Weekend attendees and the number one descriptor to the prompt “What Does the Rainbow Ball Mean to You?” is: safe. Next up in popular descriptors is: free. On the one hand all of us at UMM are over the moon that we consistently delivered this safe and freeing weekend. On the other hand, it is striking how much work is left to be done so that minority youth feel safe and free every day in every space they occupy. Thus, as my students say, I’m hit with “all the feels” – simultaneous joy and sorrow and rage and love, etc., ugh.

So steering this trainwreck of tumultuous emotions toward the happy happy joy joy dance station – we have a safe space to host the 11th Annual Rainbow Ball Weekend Village April 27-29, 2018 at Mount Desert Island High School near Bar Harbor and with a theme of “OUT with Alexander Hamilton”!!!!!! There is a dedicated crew working away to sustain the Rainbow Ball Weekend, please msg if you want to volunteer.

Image designed by Michaela Girard (RBW Photographer)

It’s sad to say goodbye to hosting the RBW and to recent graduates who helped so much the last 3-4 years of Rainbow Ball – AB, HH, CR, & DG.  But I’m stoked with our returning members of the 100% Society and that we will be continuing to help out at MDIHS next year! We were thrilled that our tiny campus made the Campus Pride top 30 LGBT-friendly college index – AGAIN and RBW helped us get there!

While we prepared for the last Ball, we were deeply saddened by the news of the deaths of two former attendees: Charles Maze Knowles, youth and Mitzi Lichtman, chaperone.  Please keep their memories and their family and friends in your hearts.

This last Rainbow Ball Weekend at UMM was phenomenal with over 200 guests staying the whole weekend thanks to generous fundraising from folks like Danni and all the youth pitching in.  Here’s a quick recap:  St. Aiden’s comfy; food outstanding (MMHS Culinary, Annie’s Everything Nice, Sodexo); DJ Enile8 and the dance spectacular; the workshops engaging; Geo’s keynote sublime; the Talent Show and Drag Queens superlative (with the fabulous Chanel & Hurricane Bertha from the early years!!); the donated Harmonious Hearts book compelling; the counselors and chaperones lovingly dedicated; and the Ballers righteous.

Take the spirit of safety, freedom, family, and love that infuses the Rainbow Ball Weekend with you into your mundane lives and hold each other close.  Along your journey think about channeling this love into advocacy if you aren’t already doing so. Consider the Safe Group of Outright Portland, Voice of Maine Women, Disability Rights Maine, Maine Transnet, Maine Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Coalition, Equality Maine LGBTQIA Rights,  Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine, HEAL Support for those HIV+ and those with Substance Use Disorders, Operation Breaking Stereotypes, immigration etc Mano en Mano | Hand in Hand and so many more!

Rest in Peace

“As a member of SAFE Group–Portland Outright’s team of LGBTQ+, gender-nonconforming and allied youth organizers inside Long Creek Youth Development Center–Maze was a powerful, thoughtful, and fearless leader. He embodied a quiet power that came from seeing people’s whole truth, an unflinching commitment to loving each other boldly no matter what, and naming clearly a vision of safety and justice big enough for all of us. He made people feel welcome and so invited each of us to invest in each other’s safety, well-being, and resilience. Even on bad days he was a beacon. We honor his vision, his life, and love him with the same fierceness he inspired in all of us.”

“May everyone live a long, loving, and healthy life. It’s been great knowing, loving, playing, laughing, crying, singing, working, lobbying, advocating, and protesting with all of you. We all came together in different ways at different times and we made a difference in each other’s life and the world around us. Keep living and doing and making the world a better place. Be the best you can be.  Carry on without me but do remember my strong spirit and open heart.

Mitzi Joy Lichtman 2017 from SAGE Newsletter

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“I see you shiver with antici…..pation”

Woohoo folks we are having a year of amazing LGBTQ+ events in Washington County, ME, see the timeline below ‘BLAZE’!! The Machias Rainbow Con has some wicked good events including a midnight movie showing of the original Rocky Horror Picture Show with help from talented Emcees from the Barn Arts Collective guaranteeing plenty of audience partici…..pation. Once we cover our costs, any additional ticket sales are donations for the Rainbow Ball Weekend, feel free to support us!

Our Celebrity guest on Saturday is none other than the Magdalena Visaggio, author of Kim & Kim comic books, one of the Kims is trans and the other is bi! She’ll be presenting on her work as a trans comic book author, selling her books, and giving autographs. We are also hosting the first gallery show of Kevin Dutil’s beautiful drawings of his  GLBTQ Super Heroes also opening the same weekend!

There is much much more: LARPing, Tourneys, Shakespeare’s Star Wars Readers Theater, Cosplay Contest, live music, and a Zombie Fun Run! It’s a beautiful time to visit our coastal area. We’re rustic, gritty, and small but we have really big hearts. Come on out you awesome nerds!

blaze_kd

 

Timeline

  • Tuesday October 11 Training to Support LGBT Youth, Harvest of Ideas at the University of Maine at Machias, Presenters include the Health Equity Alliance, Zack Paakkonen, Portland Legal, local educators and students, CEUs available, contact Sharon Dean at 263-8370 or Sharon.dean@gmail.com.
  • Fri-Sun October 14-16 Machias Rainbow Con University of Maine at Machias
  • Sunday October 16 Zombie Fun Run Fundraiser for Health Equity Alliance at the University of Maine at Machias
  • March 17th , 2017 Community of Hope full day Training to Support LGBT Youth follow up, presenters include Wayne Maines
  • April 7-9th, 2017 10th Annual Rainbow Ball Weekend “OUT in Space” University of Maine at Machias, Indigenous Queen Lyzz Bien confirmed keynote speaker! Get your cushy camp mattresses now & this year everyone has to pay $5, so start those bottle drives!

Raising a Rainbow Village!

Oh Mylanta! What a BEAUTIFUL AMAZING CRAZY weekend! 🙂  It takes a Campus and so many other volunteers and donors to raise a Rainbow Village!  Huge thanks all around and also Happy Pride month!

Representative comments on what the HS youth had to say:
Prompt: What does Rainbow Ball Weekend mean to you:
“A weekend to be me where I don’t have to hide or be afraid of who I am. Rainbow Ball is the entire reason I came out.”
 
“It’s a place I can be myself and I don’t have to hide. I feel so free I could cry. I’m very sad that it’s my last year.”
 
“Rainbow Ball this year was something new to me. This year I have come out as gender queer, and I have to be closeted at home. I felt safe and being called THEY made my heart flutter. I feel empowered and amazing. Thank you!”
 
“The Rainbow ball means freedom to me. At home I can’t be myself, I can’t wear my suit, I can’t see my girlfriend…here I can.”
 
“The Rainbow Ball is my sanctuary, I feel so at peace and at home here with everyone.”

For fun – by the Numbers: 246 T-Shirts (3 designs: youth, counselors, staff), 234 prom attendees, 231 Total non UMM Guests for the Weekend, 201 Youth Guests (& school staff, some parents, and counselors -153 attended in 2015); a couple hundred of preferred pronoun and other LGBTQ+ pins made by two high school groups; 55 straight hours this weekend with students for some teachers; 44 (12 brand new) Unique Workshops/ Presentations/ Support Groups/ Activities; 25 donated copies of Transformation of an American Family autographed by Nicole & Wayne Maines; 24 performances at the Talent Showcase,19 Schools and youth organizations, 16 UMM Alumni/former student volunteers, 15 table representatives from various organizations; 12 trips to Hannaford’s, 8 counselors who were previous attendees, 5 meals, 5 cakes, 4 games at Prom, 3 buses, 2 fabulous drag queens, 2 UMPI Alumni, 1 UMPI Faculty, 1 EMCC Faculty, 1 Feedback Session,  and 1 herd of dinosaurs: bisexual brontosaurus, lesbian leopluridon, flaming homosaurus, asexual archeopteryx, gay gallimimus, pansexual pantydraco, questioning quasetosaurus, transgender pterodactyl, and ally allosaurus.

Mark your calendars! We are busy planning the unconventional  Machias Rainbow Con this October 14 & 15 as a partial fundraiser – after expenses.

Rainbow Ball Weekend Photo Backdrop

Rainbow Ball Weekend Photo Backdrop

Spring Gayly Forward

Rainbow ball is important because it teaches a lot especially that you’re not alone, you’re not the only one. You make long lasting friendships.” 2015 student attendee

As we approach this year’s Rainbow Ball Weekend, April 8-10, 2016 at the University of Maine at Machias there have been some highlights since last April. We were thrilled that our tiny campus made the Campus Pride top 25 LGBT-friendly college index, 100% Faculty Advisor, Lois-Ann Kuntz was honored to receive the Equality Maine Community Courage Award, and we received a Maine Community Foundation Equity grant award for the Rainbow Ball Weekend. No matter that we’re small, we are mighty. You too are mighty, even one person can make profound changes.  We have been deeply saddened by the passing of Kevin Dutil of Coney High School and Peter Rees of Downeast GLSEN both stalwart supporters of LGBT+ youth and Rainbow Ball Weekend. They were mighty.  It’s up to us to continue their work.

We have some exciting developments for this year’s 9th Annual Rainbow Ball Weekend! We’re including a Youth Career Expo on Friday April 8th during the day and our local career center will be offering workshops on Hot Jobs in Maine. Also on Friday, UMM’s Maine Writer Series has invited the Rainbow Ballers to attend a reading by author Arielle Greenberg who’s writing includes LGBT topics. We will have other career related activities like musical improv and archaeology digs.  As always we’re looking forward to what the kids present at the talent show on Friday night – make sure they bring their props!

On Saturday our keynote speaker will be Zack Paakkonen, with Portland Maine Legal, and he will be addressing legal issues of transgender youth in Maine schools. And… speaking of legal issues for Maine trans youth, Random House Publishing has donated 25 copies of the wonderful book,  Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family by Amy Nutt for attending schools to take to their libraries. Interested attendees will also get to work with faculty on writing and prints for an LGBTQ Youth chapbook. Finally, the Jurassic Jamboree themed Rainbow Ball dance Saturday night should be a leviathan of a good time. 😉

We’re excited that UMPI’s 100% student organization as well as the Health Equity Alliance  are pitching in again to offer workshop/counseling/testing and more support! As always we’re looking forward to a great weekend with Maine’s LGBT youth. The schedule… is still under construction but other than all these new developments… will be similar to last year. 🙂

FMI, registration,and or counselor applications please go to our website: 100% Society or e-mail downeastme@chapters.glsen.org.  If you would like to donate or want to showcase your business/ group/ nonprofit at the Queer Career Youth Expo, please see this same site and the vendor materials, we had >170 guests last year.  For those of you who have questions/ offered help/ registered/ applied to be counselors – thank you & thanks for your patience!

As for future plans, in addition to our annual Rainbow Ball Weekend, the 100% Society is helping to host the first Machias RainbowCon October 14-15 in partnership with the Machias Bay Area Chamber of Commerce for fun and to raise funds for the Rainbow Ball Weekend. And if you’re in Washington County, ME, stay tuned for a free fall workshop for educators and mental health providers (CEU’s available), One Lonely Kid at a Time hosted by the LBGTQ Community Circle.

We’re all on journeys and best wishes to all of us on our shared journey towards 100% equality. “When all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.” — U.S. President Barack Obama

As always please share, especially if you know youth who might benefit. Thanks!

RainbowBall_banner_2015

June Prides n’ Brides

N’ Graduations! All the Beauty and Love warding off pain, loneliness, rejection, depression and fear. We hope it lasts forever with the truth and self-confidence that lifts us outside of us, above us into a rainbow community wrapped in summer sunshine.  Two young women, one who has attended Rainbow Ball four years, are getting married this week. Rainbow tassel graduates everywhere. Congratulations and Best Wishes to all.  Mount Desert Island High School served up a warm fuzzy of a Rainbow Festival including Bar Harbor’s fabulous ImprovAcadia. Maine has two Pride events left and we’re going to celebrate – Pride Portland! and Bangor Pride.  June.

We had an epic Rainbow Ball and are going ahead and planning our next one though it will require serious fundraising.  How can we not continue when there are so many written comments similar to these? Go ahead and wrap yourself up in this sunshine.

“For the first time in my life I felt accepted and like it was okay that I love who I love, and made me feel the happiest I have in years because I’m not stuck living in a ‘closet’ like I am at home.”

“Because you get to meet so many nice, sweet, and welcoming people and it often helps people gain confidence, I know I have. It’s only my second year coming and I’ve been fully willing to meet and talk with people.”

 “Rainbow ball is important because it teaches a lot especially that you’re not alone you’re not the only one. You make long lasting friendships.”

 “I think I would share the fact that a person can learn a lot about themselves at this event. You might learn about your identity, sexuality, other people’s experiences, and maybe even new interest like book making.”

 “I would tell people that Rainbow Ball is a place to learn and have fun, like how schools should be.”

 “It honestly saves lives. And not everyone knows that.”

 “Education is power, and with all of the education you can get about LGBTQ, you can have so much power and voice.”

 “I would tell them that everyone is very nice and respectful with names and pronouns.”

 “That it is a great place to make lots of amazing friends and that the people and stories here are relatable and eye opening.”

 “I had a great time. I would tell them that there are great people and that there is so many opportunities to learn and have fun and that you won’t want to leave.”

“I would just tell people that this is an awesome program for people in general. Whether you’re questioning, coming out, need info or need reassurance that you are not alone!”

“Its good to be surrounded by people that won’t judge you no matter who you are.”

“It’s so empowering to meet people who have been through the same things as you and are just like you.”

“Rainbow ball is important because it teaches a lot especially that you’re not alone you’re not the only one. You make long lasting friendships.”

“BEST PLACE EVER 🙂

Make out your checks to “Rainbow Ball Fundraising” and mail to:

100% Society, University of Maine at Machias, 116 O’Brien Avenue, Machias, ME 04654

Image from the 2014 Grammy Awards