Mission
Outright Lewiston/Auburn creates safe and affirming environments for youth ages 14-21 who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or questioning.

History
The current Outright/Lewiston-Auburn originated in a group of young people and adults who came together in 1996 to form an organization where LGBTQ and allied young people could find support and community, a mission that has expanded with the recognition that the terms those letters indicate are too narrow: Outright is for people of all genders and sexualities. Our Outright drop-ins began in 1997 in a room at the Lewiston YWCA. We sometimes affectionately refer to those times as “Outright in a Box” because we kept our Outright supplies—like magazines and safer sex material—in a box that we brought out for every meeting. The Y was incredibly welcoming and wonderful but later we were able to move into locations that we could call more our own. Our meeting space now has posters and a lending library for books, videos, and DVDs.

Back when we started, finding queer resources often entailed a fair amount of stealth activities: knowing someone who knew just the right school counselor, or noticing something interesting in the reading suggestions of one brave staffer at a local bookstore. So, not surprisingly, the organizing committee was motivated especially by the idea of young people alone and in trouble, including whispers around town about a young man’s suicide that called people to action. Even today, with information a mouse-click away, young people (and not so young people) can find themselves isolated and needing support.

But Outright was never just about handling difficult situations like that. From pie-eating contests at our first dance to discussions at drop-ins about alternatives to the military, Outright has been a great place to foster joy and pleasure along with support—as well a commitment to an anti-oppression model where sexuality and gender are considered along with other matters such as race and economic status. In addition, Outright L/A was the first Outright—and indeed one of the first Maine organizations of any kind—to insist on trans inclusion, education, and acceptance as a criterion for all volunteers and an important matter at every level of participation.

Over the years, young people in Outright L/A have also participated in many activities beyond its boundaries: through events like queer conferences and, for many years, an annual Maine summer youth summit that Outright L/A contributed to organizing; through speaking engagements at schools and for other organizations; through workshops, GSAs, political actions, Pride activities, and more. Now in our 12th year, we continue to strive to bring social-justice principles and practices to Outright and from Outright out into the world.

 

How We Offer Our Support To Our Community
• Weekly drop-in for youth ages 14-21 who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and allies. This is a place to hang out, get support from trained volunteers, receive HIV and STD education and information about testing, and support/ education about other topics related to sexual health, suicide prevention, consent, and harm reduction.

• Support for Gay/ Straight Alliances and similar programs at local high schools

• Find, train and maintain a group of about 30 youth and adult volunteers who oversee drop-in, events, dances, provide outreach, assist with trainings, fundraising and one on one support for youth in need.

• Provide one to one support for parents and professionals who have LGBTQ youth in their lives

• Trainings for professionals who work with youth about increasing safety and awareness of the needs of LGBTQ youth in their programs and schools

• Annual state-wide Maine QT Youth Summit

• Collaborations with other programs working with and for lgbtq youth such as New Beginnings, Out As I Want to Be, PRYSM, All About Prevention, University of Southern Maine- Lewiston Auburn (USM/ LAC), Family Planning, Sexual Assault Crisis Center (SACC), Lots to Gardens and , GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network )

• Annual Lewistunning Dragapalooza , our very successful drag show fundraiser and community building event

• Outreach to schools and programs, youth and adults, about diversity, respect and oppression

• Safer sex and sexual health outreach to youth in schools and programs

• Three dances each year that provide a safe supportive environment for LGBTQ youth to socialize

• Organize annual trips to Southern Maine Pride where youth can interact with the larger LGBT and straight allied communities

• Events that promote health for LGBTQ youth including World AIDS Day, Day of Silence, and National HIV testing events

 

Staff
Penny Sargent is the program coordinator for Outright/ Lewiston-Auburn. She has been involved with the program for ten years, starting in October of 1998 as a volunteer advisor. In 2000 she started the Outright/ L-A's first outreach project.

 

 

 

 

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