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Maine’s First-Ever LGBTQ Author Festival, OutSpoken, Comes to Portland September 22nd

OutSpoken facebook post

PORTLAND: Fascinating experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) people will be explored by writers of memoirs and social history at OutSpoken: An LGBTQ Author Festival. Sponsored by AARP Maine and hosted by the Portland Press Herald, this daylong event will be held at Hannaford Hall at the University of Southern Maine on Saturday, Sept 22. The festival authors will read from and discuss the inspiration behind their recent books. Two of the authors will share their first-hand experiences as caregivers for their parents, an area of particular focus for AARP.

OutSpoken is a free festival and all are welcome. Registration is required. To register online visit To register by phone call 1-877-926-8300 on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. Eastern.

Authors scheduled to speak at OutSpoken include (in alphabetical order):

Marusya Bociurkiw SQUARE
Marusya Bociurkiw

Marusya Bociurkiw, author of Food Was Her Country: The Memoir of a Queer Daughter

Food Was Her Country is the story of a Catholic immigrant mother, a godless bohemian daughter, and their tempestuous culinary relationship. From accounts of 1970’s macrobiotic potlucks to a dangerous road trip in search of lunch, the book is funny, dark, and tender in turn. When Bociurkiw’s Ukraine-born mother, a devotee of The Food Channel and a consummate cook, gets cancer of the larynx, she must learn how to eat and speak all over again. Her daughter learns how to feed her mother, but more crucially, how to let her mother feed her. The book concludes with a daughter’s journey of grieving and reconciliation, uncovering the truth of her relationship with her mother only after her death. “In this moving memoir, Marusya Bociurkiw reveals how both mother and daughter fought for a relationship on new terms, where both could retain their autonomy without controlling the other’s life. The author’s discoveries are illuminating for the reader, and articulate possibilities of understanding with individuation, rarely imagined or realized.” – Sarah Schulman, novelist, playwright, journalist

Fieseler SMALL (c) Ryan Leitner (2)
Robert W. Fieseler (photo credit: Ryan Leitner)

Robert W. Fieseler, author of Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation

Tinderbox mesmerizingly reconstructs the June, 1973 fire that devastated New Orleans’ subterranean gay community. Fieseler chronicles the tragic event that claimed the lives of 32 people at a bar called the Up Stairs Lounge, the largest mass murder of gays until a 2016 nightclub attack in Orlando. Relying on unprecedented access to survivors and archives, Fieseler creates an indelible portrait of a closeted, blue-collar gay world that flourished before an arsonist ignited an inferno. The aftermath was no less traumatic, revealing a world of prejudice that thrived well past Stonewall. Yet the impassioned activism that followed proved essential to the emergence of a fledgling gay movement. “A remarkable feat of reporting… an impressive work of history… an important work of memory, showing how powerful institutions – media, legislators and city authorities – shared an interest in suppressing the tragedy, and finally giving the account its rightful place in America’s national story.” – Los Angeles Times

George-Hodgman-SMALL author-photo-credit-Sigrid-Estrada-copy
George Hodgman (photo credit: Sigrid Estrada)

George Hodgman, author of Bettyville: A Memoir

When Hodgman leaves Manhattan for his hometown of Paris, Missouri, he finds himself in a head-on collision with his mother, Betty, a woman of wit and will. Will he lure her into assisted living? When hell freezes over. He can’t bring himself to force her from the home both treasure – the place where his father’s voice lingers, the scene of shared jokes, skirmishes, and a rarely acknowledged conflict: Betty, who speaks her mind but cannot quite reveal her heart, has never really accepted that her son is gay. As Bettyville’s two unforgettable characters try to bring their different worlds together, Hodgman reveals the challenges of Betty’s life and his own struggle for self-respect. “Without a doubt my favorite book of the year. Wise, witty, and heartbreaking... a surprisingly profound and hilarious look at aging, mothers and sons, fathers and sons, growing up gay and small-town life in America.” – Nathan Lane, actor

Sarah Perry_authorphoto_SMALL
Sarah Perry

Sarah Perry, author of After the Eclipse: A Mother’s Murder, a Daughter’s Search

Perry was just 12 years old when she woke up to the horrifying sounds of her mother being stabbed to death in the kitchen of their home in Bridgton, Maine. It took 12 more years for the police to find and prosecute the killer, after which Perry embarked on her own journey to understand her mother and reclaim their story. In her debut memoir After the Eclipse, Perry pens a deeply loving and impactful account of her beautiful, young mother’s life beyond her violent final hour, and she digs into the disturbing social biases that are at the root of the epidemic of gender-based violence. “ After the Eclipse pulls the reader swiftly along on parallel tracks of mystery and elegy…. Perry’s scrupulous research and painstaking rendering of her experiences makes her a trustworthy guide through such emotionally charged terrain.” – Bliss Broyard, New York Times

OutSpoken: An LGBTQ Author Festival will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday, September 22 at Hannaford Hall in the Abromson Community Education Center, 88 Bedford St. in Portland. Parking is free in the adjacent garage.

OutSpoken: An LGBTQ Author Festival is a free event and all are welcome. Registration is required. To register online visit To register by phone call 1-877-926-8300 on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. Eastern. All registrants who provide an email address will receive a final author presentation schedule two days before the event.

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, as an active participant in community events, we are proud to stand with LGBTQ members, non-members, allies and other critical stakeholders.

With almost 900,000 of our nearly 38 million members self-identifying as LGBTQ, AARP may have one of the largest constituencies of LGBTQ members among US membership organizations. At AARP, we work hard every day to fight for and equip individuals to live their best lives. “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. Learn more at

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