Kayla Graffam



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Betsy Smith is a 63 year old lesbian woman who was born in Bangor and grew up in Exeter Maine. She was raised by her mother and father on a potato farm with her three siblings. She attended Jacksonville University, where she came to terms with her sexual identity and received a degree in physical education. She eventually was hired as a math teacher in Vermont and later Portland, Maine. After moving to Portland, Smith became involved in volunteering for gay rights activist groups like the MLGPA. She was involved in multiple campaigns, including the various Maine Won’t Discriminate campaigns in 1995, 1998, and 2005, and well as the Yes on 6 campaign and the Maine Marriage Equality campaign.

After moving to Boston for three years, and starting a family with her wife, Smith moved back to Portland in 2002 to become the Executive Director for EqualityMaine (MLGPA), working on passing a nondiscrimination policy in Maine to protect LGBTQ+ people, as well as helping to coordinate multiple Marriage Equality campaigns eventually leading to the passage of the Marriage Equality Act in Maine in 2012. Smith discusses the hardships of campaign work, failures and successes, and provides advice to current and future activists.

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


Exeter (ME), Bangor (ME), Potato farming, Aroostook County, Jacksonville University, Florida Southern College, University of Maine at Augusta, Physical Education, Identity struggle, St. Johnsbury Academy, Vermont, Math teacher, Political Activism, Waynflete School Portland (ME), Portland (ME), Nondiscrimination Policy Portland Maine, Volunteering, Equal Protection Portland (EPP), EqualityMaine, Maine Lesbian/Gay Political Alliance (MLGPA), Political Activism, Activism, LGBTQ+ Activism, Lesbian, Lesbian relationship, Lesbian parents, Maine Won’t Discriminate, Equal Rights Laws, Nondiscrimination Protections, LGBTQ, Peoples Veto, Governor John McKernan, Governor John Baldacci, Vote No Feb 10th, Yes on 6, Governor Angus King, Nondiscrimination 2005, Marriage Equality, Adoption laws, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Human Rights Campaign, Blue Postcards, Kate Knox, Holiday Inn, Public Education campaign, Tv Ads, Harlen Gardner, Marriage Equality 2012


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

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Smith, Betsy



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