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Meet the New England Panelists for ‘Living Histories,’ an LGBTQ+ History Month Online Event Oct. 28

LGBTQ History Month Event

Four AARP state offices in northern New England are partnering this month to co-sponsor the online program Living Histories: New England LGBTQ+ Voices from the Outwords Archive, hosted by the Outwords Archive (OUTWORDS) via Zoom on Friday, October 28 at noon Eastern. The event is free but registration is required.

Timed to celebrate LGBTQ History Month, the program’s panel will feature three older adults – residing in Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont – who have granted lengthy interviews to OUTWORDS, a nonprofit oral history archive that “captures, preserves and shares the stories of LGBTQIA2S+ elders to build community and catalyze social change.”

Brief highlights from the panelists’ interviews will be shown before the event’s host, OUTWORDS Founder and Executive Director Mason Funk – a former resident of Portland, Maine – will speak live with each of them. Event attendees may ask questions of the panelists using the chat function.

The October 28 event’s panelists will be:

John Killacky, 70, of Vermont: disabled writer, arts administrator, state legislator

John R. Killacky currently serves in the Vermont House of Representatives. Previously he was executive director of Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, program officer for arts and culture at San Francisco Foundation, executive director of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and curator of performing arts for Walker Art Center. Other past positions include program officer at Pew Charitable Trusts, general manager of PepsiCo Summerfare, and managing director of the Trisha Brown and Laura Dean dance companies. He received the First Bank Award Sally Ordway Irvine Award in Artistic Vision, William Dawson Award for Programming Excellence from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, Dance USA's Ernie Award as an unsung hero, Fan Taylor Distinguished Service Award for Exemplary Service to the Field of Professional Presenting, and Vermont Arts Council's Kannenstine Award for Arts Advocacy. He co-edited the Lambda Literary Award-winning anthology, Queer Crips: Disabled Gay Men and Their Stories and his new book is because art: commentary, critique, & conversation.

To view Killacky’s original OUTWORDS interview, recorded in 2022 in South Burlington, Vermont, click here.

BobBI Keppel, 89, of Maine: bisexual activist, safer sex advocate, folk musician

BobBI (Barbara) Keppel is almost 90 and has been out for about half her life, initially as bi and now more inclined to use the label “queer.” In Maine where she currently lives, she rarely encounters others who use the term “bi” for themselves, and still encounters biphobia among gay and lesbian elders.

Keppel was a social worker for nearly 30 years. Of all her accomplishments within the bisexual community, Keppel is most proud of creating the Sexual and Affectional Orientation and Identity Scales (SAOIS) with Alan Hamilton, a model she has used in workshops, classes, and seminars to demonstrate the variety of sexual identities.

In 1991, Keppel co-founded the Unitarian Universalist Bisexual Network, which later merged into Interweave, the Unitarian Universalist queer organization. From 1999 to 2005, she was a safer sex advisor for the Bisexual Health Project in Boston, training outreach workers to spread the word, and supplies, at bars, clubs, pride marches, and other venues. In 2003, she was the first safer sex presenter at the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists’ conference. She also presented on safer sex at the National Joint Conference on Aging in 2004.

Keppel is currently a member of the Harbour Singers, a hospice choir that sings to people in end-of-life care. She’s enjoyed being an activist, writer, speaker and “nuisance” even as Covid has kept her at home.

To view Keppel’s original OUTWORDS interview, recorded in 2016 in Portland, Maine, click here.

David Wilson, 78, of Massachusetts: corporate leader, marriage equality advocate

After earning a BS and MBA from Northeastern University, David Wilson embarked on a 30-year career with Verizon Communications, serving in a number of middle and senior management positions across New England and New York. He began a second 10-year career with Spaulding and Sly, Colliers, a National Real Estate Development Company where he served as the Vice President for Facility and Property Management Services.

In 2015, following his retirement, Wilson and his husband, Rob Compton, moved to Provincetown. Wilson joined the Provincetown Theater board in 2016 and has served as board president since 2017. He has also been a member of the Outer Cape Health Services board, the Human Rights Campaign, MassEquality, and the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders board.

In 2001, Wilson and Compton became one of the seven plaintiff couples in the Goodridge vs. the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, an equal marriage lawsuit. After the case was won in 2003, they were married on May 17, 2004, which was the first day of legal same-sex marriages in MA. David and Rob are the proud parents of five adult children, twelve grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Wilson’s full OUTWORDS interview, which was recorded in July, 2021 in Provincetown, will become available before the October 28 event. This article will be updated to include the link.

Living Histories: New England LGBTQ Voices from the Outwords Archive is sponsored by the AARP state offices in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. To register for this free online event on Friday, October 28 at noon Eastern, CLICK HERE.

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