Samantha Rouillard



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Johannah Burdin shares her story as a lesbian/queer woman experiencing southern Maine in the 1990s. Her story touches on topics involving coming out, relationships, a traumatic incident that left her disabled, activism, and much more. She was active in her youth in spreading awareness on the AIDS/HIV crisis, education on safe sex, and spent her evenings at popular Portland gay bars, like Sister’s Bar and Limelight/The Underground. Although she is not much into drinking, she recognized these were some of the few spots queer people could go to make community and relationships. Johannah also shares her story of becoming a parent, opting to do it on her own after deciding the partnership she was in wasn’t the right fit. She had to get creative in raising a child with one arm, but says this process allowed her to see how expansive her creativity and innovation really was. After many years of being involved in multiple activism efforts, Johannah decided to pursue a career that allowed her to have more time with her child, who is surrounded by a loving chosen family.

Please cite as: Querying the Past: LGBTQ Maine Oral History Project Collection, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer+ Collection, Jean Byers Sampson Center for Diversity in Maine, University of Southern Maine Libraries. For more information about the Querying the Past: Maine LGBTQ Oral History Project, please contact Dr. Wendy Chapkis.

Publication Date



USM Special Collections


Portland, Maine


s Portland, Johannah Burdin, Dover, Foxcroft, and Sebec Maine, India, Madurai, Chennai, Women’s Birth Rituals, Coming Out, Queer, Lesbian, Coming Out, Family, Chosen Family, Passing, Discrimination, Support, Mother, Chosen Family, College Dorms, Networking, Meeting Queers, Nightlife, LGBTQ+, College, Bowdoin College, Class of 1992, Politics, Job Search, Accident, Disability, ACTUP, AIDS, AIDS Crisis, Trauma, Losing a Limb, Surviving Accident, Women’s Studies, English Literature, Women’s Rights, Queer Rights, Disability Rights, Social Justice, High School Counselor, Portland High School, Employment, Women’s Association, AfroAm, African American Students Union, Equal Protection Portland, Outright, Maine Won't Discriminate, Portland Pride, Maine Pride, AIDS, HIV, Awareness, Activism, Safe Sex, Ally, Creativity, Organizing, ACTUP Portland, ACTUP Maine, Erica Rand, Sue Enos, Del Wilson, Organizing, Civil Disobedience, Educating, Die-Ins, Organizing, Special Collections, ACTUP, Newspaper, Responses to ACTUP, Offending Behavior, Reactions to AIDS Activism, Access to Education, Protesting, Insurance Companies and Policies, Community engagement/activism, Change, Portland 1990s, Medication for AIDS, GLBTQ, Gay Culture, 1990s, Bars, Gay Bars, Women Loving Women, Culture, Community, Sister’s Bar, The Limelight Bar, The Underground Bar, Dancing, Allyship, Fun, Meeting People, Political Queer, Art, Creativity, Sister’s Bar, Marianne Brown, Sue Pierce, Commerce, Queer Owned Businesses, “Slimelight”, Word of Mouth, Gay Bars, Chosen Family, Moving, Bisexuality, Dating, Extended Family, Child, Support, Family, Living next door to best friend, Extended Family as Queer Exes and Friends, Gay Men, Daughter, Single Parenting, Artificial Insemination, Chosen Family, Child is not queer identifying, First Romantic Experience, High School, Dating Gay/Bisexual Men, College, Dating Women, Maintaining Friendships, First Queer Relationship, Expectations, Family, Confused, Working with Trans and Queer Youth, Gender Sexuality Alliance, Coming Out at Work, Sexuality, Trans Youth, Vulnerability, Career, Upper Bound, 1990s-2006, University of Southern Maine, Educational Opportunity, Assistant Director/Director of Upward Bound, Education Opportunity Program, Parenting, Job Search, Lawyer, Doctor, Guidance Counselor, Education System, Changing Systems, Southern Maine Community College/SMCC, University of Maine at Orono, Disability, Experience/Perspective of some with a disability, Mental Health, Visible/Invisible Disability, Single Parenting, Raising a Child as a Single Parent with a Disability, Getting Creative, Advice, Obstacles, Pursuing Dreams/Goals, ACTUP, 1990s, Out Person, Gratitude, Queer Community, Querying the Past


History of Gender | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | Oral History | Women's Studies

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Burdin, Johannah



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