AARP Maine Celebrates Bangor Pride with ‘Bar Stories – Our Stories’ Event on Friday, June 21

Posted on 06/13/24

Join AARP Maine in celebrating Bangor Pride weekend as we explore the history of LGBTQ+ bars in Maine with Bar Stories – Our Stories on Friday, June 21. Although the modern LGBTQ+ civil rights movement is usually considered to have begun with New York’s Stonewall rebellion in 1969, LGBTQ+ bars throughout the United States predated that event, including here in Maine, where Portland’s first gay bar, Roland’s Tavern, opened in 1967. This event at Husson University’s Gracie Theatre will feature a 5 p.m. reception where you can enjoy appetizers and drinks (including one complimentary beer or wine per adult 21+) and get to know more about AARP’s work on behalf of the 50-plus in Bangor and throughout Maine. At 6 p.m. we’ll screen the documentary Bar Stories from Queer Maine followed by a discussion with the filmmakers and other guests. This event is free to everyone, but registration is required. To register, visit or call 877-926-8300.

The documentary Bar Stories from Queer Maine offers funny and often poignant accounts of gay bars as important community-building venues. It also reveals the threat to LGBTQ+ culture of disappearing social spaces. The film was co-directed and co-produced by Betsy Carson and Wendy Chapkis, Ph.D., who interviewed 29 people featured in the film discussing their experiences at LGBTQ+ bars in Maine over the past five decades. A 47-minute extended cut version of the film will be shown.

The filmmakers will participate in a conversation after the screening, joined by longtime social activist Steve Bull, who is interviewed in the film, and Theo Greene, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Sociology at Bowdoin College.

About the Filmmakers

Betsy Carson has been making self-funded movies since 1995. She has co-produced short and long format films and a 53-episode comedy web series. Betsy's TV works include Delicious TV’s Vegan Mashup, the Totally Vegetarian public television series, and Delicious TV, a Top 10 iTunes food podcast for four years running. In 2017 she teamed up with co-director Wendy Chapkis to start capturing stories from Maine’s LGBTQ+ community.

Wendy Chapkis, Ph.D., teaches sociology and gender studies at the University of Southern Maine and is the Faculty Scholar for the Sampson Center for Diversity in Maine’s LGBTQ+ Collection. In that capacity, she has created the “Querying the Past: Maine LGBTQ Oral History Project,” which now includes life history interviews with dozens of LGBTQ+ Mainers. She is also the author of numerous articles and three books. She is currently completing work on “Stepping Up,” a queer history trail in Portland, Maine.

Other Featured Guests

Steve Bull grew up in Kennebunk, Maine, and while a student at the University of Maine in Orono co-founded the Wilde-Stein Club and the Maine Gay Task Force. He serves on the advisory committee for the LGBTQ+ Collection at the University of Southern Maine and the board of Portland Outright. He remains a lifelong social activist and is one of the interviewees featured in Bar Stories from Queer Maine.

Theo Greene, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Bowdoin College whose research, writing, and teaching interests lie at the intersections of gender, sexuality, urbanism, and culture. His research broadly uses sexual communities to understand how urban redevelopment shapes and reconfigures how individuals conceptualize, identify with, and participate in local communities. His newly published book, Not in MY Gayborhood: Gay Neighborhoods and the Rise of the Vicarious Citizen (Columbia University Press), explores the persistence of iconic gay neighborhoods in Washington, DC.

AARP's unwavering commitment to the LGBTQ+ community reflects our core belief in the dignity, worth, and potential of every individual. We reject discrimination based on a person's age, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender identity. We see diversity as a source of strength. For us, LGBTQ+ communities are a vital part of the quilt of American life.

Our commitment can be measured by what we say – and what we do. In our policy work at the community, state, and national levels, as we collaborate with other organizations serving multicultural communities, in our role as an employer, as a purchaser of supplies, and as an active participant in community events, we are proud to stand with LGBTQ+ members, non-members, allies and other critical stakeholders.

With approximately 1,000,000 of our members self-identifying as LGBTQ+, AARP has one of the largest LGBTQ+ constituents of any membership organization. We are grateful for the continued support of the LGBTQ+ community in our vital work.

At AARP, we work hard every day to empower people to choose how they live as they age. "What we do, we do for all" is a guiding principle articulated by our founder, distinguished educator Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, and we proudly carry it forward.

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