Captions for each photograph are adapted from the captions used in the original 2000 exhibit, “Act Up Fight Back Take Pictures: Ten Years of Queer Activism in Maine” as well as Ryan Conrad’s 2009 exhibition, “Future of the Past: Reviving the Queer Archives.” The following two paragraphs are the original introductory text to “Act Up Fight Back Take Pictures: Ten Years of Queer Activism in Maine.”
In 1991, Annette Dragon photographed her first demonstration, an ACT UP Labor Day Demo in Kennebunkport, where then-president George Bush had a summer house. Hers wasn’t the only camera there. Besides the 1500 demonstrators, there were 500 (!) police types, many operating surveillance equipment. But her photos served a better purpose. Those first pictures went into Our Paper, a local gay newspaper. In early 1992, they found another forum in Apex, the radical queer monthly, of which she was the co-founder, that was published through 1995. Her photographs have appeared in several national exhibits and publications, including Out magazine. Many found more local homes, as they circulated among activists as documents, memories, and inspiration for future activist work.
And there was lots of that. As Annette’s photographs document, groups like ACT UP/Portland and Queer Nation kept queer issues in the local spotlight constantly between 1991 and 1996. ACT UP/Portland sometimes had demos every week, it seemed, on issues ranging from AIDS resources and policies (check out the photos of the protest against the “Dracula Bill”) to the fight for single-payer health care to Linda Bean’s questionable run for the House of Representatives (look at the “Half Baked Bean Supper”) to condom crusades at high schools. From this work at schools—and great work from students at schools—came F.A.T.E. (Fight AIDS/Transform Education), a teens-organizing-teens project that engendered righteous activism at a number of high schools from Saco to Monmouth. Besides documenting the activism of these direct-action groups, Annette has also covered the ongoing struggle to win equal rights at the polls—in Portland (1992), Lewiston (1993) and statewide (1995, 1998)—and, of course, the annual pride marches in southern Maine and elsewhere. Viewed together, the photographs show the rockin’ history of recent queer activism in Maine. ACT UP. FIGHT BACK!
Please cite as:
Annette Dragon Photographs, LGBTQ+ Collection, Jean Byers Sampson Center for Diversity in Maine, University of Southern Maine Library
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