Got questions? Need help? In Portland, there are a number of resources for LGBTQ visitors looking for a real estate agent, doctor, mechanic, or dentist. (Yes, even if you're just here on vacation you might - heaven forbid - get a flat tire or break a tooth.)
GLBTQ Networking Groups
The best places to find gay-friendly services are online at the websites for two networking groups: Rainbow Business & Professional Association
and the Downeast Pride Alliance
. RBPA has been active in the Greater Portland area for 17 years. Members meet monthly for dinner and a guest lecture. DEPA, launched in 2008, is a newer organization on the gay scene. Monthly gatherings for cocktails and conversation rotate among the city's upscale bars and restaurants and are open to all. Another new website, launched in connection with the annual GayMaine
Travel Guide, published by TravelMaine, also provides a directory of gay-friendly businesses.
The most visible advocacy group in Portland (and in Maine) is EqualityMaine
. Phenomenally successful in its work both to obtain and protect civil rights for gays and lesbians, the group was responsible for the landmark legislation approving same-sex marriage in Maine. Though that law was subsequently repealed in 2009 by a people's referendum, the vote was closer than it's ever been and EQMaine expects to win the next round.
Relocating to Maine
If you fall in love with Portland and decide to move here (and who wouldn't?), you can find lots of gay-friendly real estate agents to assist you in finding appropriate housing. If you want an agent who is a certified LGBTQ Real Estate Specialist, Colleen Bedard at
has earned her stripes and has joined the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
. Other gay-friendly brokers can be found at Keller Williams
. In addition, check out this comprehensive consumer guide to "LGBT mortgages".
History of Portland's LGBT CommunityFor LGBTQ history buffs, the University of Southern Maine Special Collections is the place to go to learn more about gays and lesbians and their impact on Portland. Three fascinating publications from the Jean Byers Sampson Center for Diversity in Maine Exhibition (Annual Event catalogs from 2005, 2006, and 2008) are especially noteworthy and are available for reading online.
Education NetworkIf, while visiting Portland, you need social support, you can turn to the Southern Maine GLSEN group (GLSEN is an acronym for Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network). PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians & Gays) is active in Portland, too, although the group's website is out of date. The chapter does have a responsive voicemail number, so for more information try calling 207-831-3015.
Gay-Friendly Churches or SynagoguesFinding a gay-friendly church or synagogue in the Greater Portland area isn't hard. Several United Church of Christ parishes in the city have earned "Open and Affirming” (ONA) status within the UCC. This means they have met certain criteria for LGBTQ inclusiveness. There is also at least one Episcopal church in Portland, the Cathedral of St. Luke, with a high percentage of gay and lesbian members as well as an awesomely gay-supportive clergy staff. Two Greater Portland synagogues, Congregation Bet Ha'am and Congregation Shaarey Tphiloh (also called the Noyes Street Shul) are known for welcoming gays and lesbians. Finally, despite the Catholic Church's reputation for denouncing gay marriage, the Catholics for Marriage Equality organization has a strong presence in Portland and throughout Maine. Gay-friendly Catholic parishes in the Portland area include Sacred Heart/St. Dominic Parish in Portland and Most Holy Trinity in nearby Saco.