Roland Blais, Lewiston Anti-Discrimination Ordinance, Discrimination in the Military, Sportsman’s Athletic Club, AIDS, Anti-Gay Discrimination Ordinance, Ride For Life, Portland, Lewiston, Maine
Roland Blais was born in Rumford, Maine in 1939, and knew by the time he was in high school that he was "different". He saved money and moved to Los Angeles in 1958, where he got a job with Broadway Department Store, and went to gay bars for the first time. He joined the Navy and served from 1959 to 1963, leaving with an honorable discharge. He then enlisted in the Army, serving 1963-1966, stationed at Walsrode, Germany, working with missiles. He returned to the United States, retrieving the car he bought in Germany from Newark Port, New Jersey, and drove to Hartford, Connecticut, planning to stay overnight with family before heading back home to Maine. While in Hartford he learned that Pratt & Whitney was hiring, so he stayed when he got a job there. He and his partner, Walter Deschamps, bought a home in Bolton, Conn. About 1974, they moved to Lewiston, Maine, to be near Roland's aging parents. When the Sportsman’s Athletic Club (83 Lincoln St.) had financial difficulties, Roland and his partner took it over, turning it into a gay club. They moved it to 2-4 Bates St. in 1976; Blais sold the club in 2006, and it closed for good in October 2009. It had been the longest-open gay bar north of Boston. The Papers contain primarily clippings and photocopies of newspaper articles, mostly dealing with the effort to pass and retain an anti-gay- discrimination ordinance in Lewiston. Also present are transcripts of testimony to the City Council regarding the ordinance and materials from the group Equal Protection Lewiston.
Size of Collection:
Roland Blais Papers, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Collection, Jean Byers Sampson Center for Diversity in Maine, University of Southern Maine Libraries.
American Studies Commons, Cultural History Commons, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies Commons, Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Commons, Social History Commons, United States History Commons