Food + Travel

4 of Maine’s most LGBTQ-friendly towns and cities

Maine may be small compared to other states like California and New York when it comes to the LGBTQ population. But we still have a footprint. And each year, more LGBTQ people and families are moving to Vacationland.

#1 – Ogunquit, Maine.

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While some may expect Portland, Maine, to be number one (and for good reason), Ogunquit is a small, New England town with the benefit of having one of Maine’s beautiful, sandy beaches. It’s Main St. is lined with old New England-style homes and little boutique shops and bed-and-breakfasts. It is also the home to Maine’s only gay nightclub, Maine Street, and the popular Front Porch Piano Bar.

During the summer, its shores are teeming with half-naked beachgoers and its shops, bars, and clubs are flooded by queer people from allover… but mostly from Massachusetts and New York.

Photo Credit: Corey Templeton

#2 – Portland, Maine.

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Photo Credit: Corey Templeton

Don’t get me wrong, Portland, Maine, is a very queer-friendly city (considered by Portlanders as Maine’s ONLY city but by out-of-staters as just a big town). Portland IS the host of the state’s largest pride parade and festival, thanks to Pride Portland! But several things have happened in the past few years. First, with society becoming more LGBTQ friendly, assimilation has started to occur, especially among white, gay males. This could be a part of the reason why gay nightclubs like Styxx and Studio 55 have closed, leaving queer people, specifically queer people of color, without traditional safe spaces. Now all that remains is Blackstones, Portland’s oldest gay bar.

But aside from that, it still attracts a lot of queer folk who want a little bit of that hipster city funk but with some of that small town feel. It’s got boutique shops, plenty of coffee shops, bookstores, a wide array of food options, and is close by to some beautiful spots to walk, hike, run or take a dip.

#3 – Hallowell, Maine.

Paul VanDerWerf

This one is unexpected. This small town hugging the banks of the Kennebec River neighbors the state’s capital and is home to many queer folk, apparently. But once you take a look at how cute it is and the ratio of art galleries, restaurants, pubs, and antique shops to anything else, you’re bound to say it’s pretty gay. Of note is Slate’s Restaurant and Bar.

It’s also a fairly progressive town with a younger, more educated, and higher paid population than most of the state. According to the Press Herald:

A contributing factor to those figures is the large percentage of city residents who work in Augusta as government employees, lobbyists, lawyers, advocates, educators or employees of nonprofit organizations, they said.

According to census data, about 22 percent of the city’s workforce is engaged in “education, legal, community service, arts and media occupations,” along with another 22 percent in “management, business and financial occupations.”

#4 – Bangor, Maine.

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Bangor, Maine, is an up-and-coming city (or big town) in Maine that has come a long ways. Decades ago, it was the scene of hate crime when a boy by the name of Charlie Howard drowned after being thrown off a bridge.

It’s the economic engine of Maine’s Congressional District 2, which leans conservative compared to the liberal 1st Congressional District. But it helps that it borders Orono, which houses the UMaine systems flagship campus and over 10,000 college students. It’s consistently held a pride parade since 1992.

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