Food Businesses Help OUT Maine's Misison
Photography Courtesy of Steam Mill Brewing
Beer, Coffee, and Bed and Breakfast Purchases Benefit Rural LGBTQIA+ Youth
Steam Mill Brewing’s Lovers Lane is a juicy, fruity IPA. It’s one of almost 20 beers offered by the Bethel-based brewery, but its flavor profile changes monthly. Blackberry was on tap in late winter, strawberry rhubarb was offered in spring, and a mix of tropical pas- sionfruit, orange, and guava is brewing for summertime. Regardless of flavor, for every glass of Lovers Lane he sells, Steam Mill’s owner James Kimball proudly donates a dollar to Rockland-based OUT Maine.
Steam Mill Brewing is one of a growing number of food and beverage businesses stepping up to support OUT Maine’s mission of creating more welcoming and affirming communities for Maine’s diverse queer youth, especially those living in rural areas. Rock City Coffee in Rockland sells a coffee blend called Maine Coast Pride and donates proceeds to the cause. Good Tern Co-op, also in Rockland, works with OUT Maine’s youth groups to introduce kids to the local food system. The Belfast Co-op has designat- ed OUT Maine as one of their charities to benefit from shoppers rounding up their grocery bills to the nearest dollar. The Landing Place shares a kitchen and hangout space with OUT Maine and works with area restaurants to feed youth in need, many of whom are LGBTQIA+. Zoot Coffee in Camden sells facemasks made by East Fork Mask. And during June, Definitive Brewing in Portland and the Camden Windward House bed and breakfast will proudly be selling OUT Maine swag.
Kimball grew up in rural Maine. He was not bullied in high school, “but I know that other [LGBTQIA+] people do have issues, and I want them to have the resources they need,” he says.
OUT Maine’s executive director Jeanne Dooley says 20% of high schoolers in Maine identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender or are questioning their gender identity or gender expression. “We are the only organization in the state that works exclusively with queer young people ... in isolated and under-resourced regions in Maine,” she says.
OUT Maine staff and volunteer mentors work directly with queer youth in safe spaces to build community, boost self-esteem, and foster leadership skills. Programming runs the gambit from weekly meetings (in person outside of the pandemic, on Zoom during), regional overnight events, and an annual Rainbow Ball that brings 200 kids together for a queer-safe prom. Even during the pandemic, Dooley estimates OUT Maine’s direct programming has reached 1,000 kids consistently.
Since rural youth spend most of their waking hours at or in transit to school, the second pillar of OUT Maine’s mission is getting schools to implement policies and procedures that support LGBTQIA+ youth and build gay-straight-trans alliances. Dooley points to a British Columbia study showing that in schools where strong gay- straight-trans alliance groups were in place for three or more years, bullying and harassment for all students was reduced by 50%.
OUT Maine also trains community members already likely to encounter LGBTQIA+ youth in their day-to-day work—teachers, healthcare providers, and public safety officials, for example—on how to best understand what these young people are dealing with and how to provide information and support to them. The organization has trained over 8,000 Maine community members in this fashion since 2015.
Dooley could not be more grateful regarding the food and beverage businesses that are helping to fund OUT Maine’s work. To learn how you can help, visit www.outmaine.org.
Christine has lived in many places, including Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, England and France. But her professional world has consistently been grounded in just two: in journalism and in the kitchen. Throughout her 30-year writing career, she’s covered sports, politics, business and technology. But for the past 10 years after completing culinary school, she’s focused on food. Her words and recipes about eating locally and sustainably have appeared in publications from The Portland Press Herald to Fine Cooking. Her award-winning cookbook Green Plate Special (link is: https://www.amazon.com/Green-Plate-Special-Sustainable-Delicious/dp/1944762140) was published in 2017. When she’s not laboring over a cutting board or a keyboard, she’s learning from her two semi-adult children, a community of food-minded friends, hundreds of productive Maine farmers, thousands of innovative chefs near and far, and her 30,000 honeybees.