Fred Berger was born in 1947 in Cleveland, Ohio. He went to college at University of Rochester and New York University in the 1960s. His older brother, who was part of the Israeli Olympic Team, died tragically in the attacks in Munich in 1972. Fred Berger moved to Portland, Maine in 1981 and played a central role in the gay community from 1981 to 1989 when he moved to Massachusetts to go to Social Work school. During the 8 years in Portland, he helped found the AIDS Project (with Frannie Peabody, Kristen Kramer, and Susan Cummings Lauren) and served as the first Board President. In 1982, he opened a bookstore on Pine St. called “Our Books” that became a defacto community center. After the murder of Charlie Howard, he became involved in the Maine Lesbian and Gay Political Alliance (MLGPA). In 1983, he started a newspaper “Our Paper” with a collective that included Diane Elze. He ran unsuccessfully for Portland City Council twice (1982 and 1986), paving the way for the eventual victory of Barb Wood. In 1983, he also founded a group to oppose an anti-pornography measure. He currently lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with his partner Ken (of 20 years) where he runs a support group for older gay men at the gay community center. He also lives part of the year in Wells, Maine.
The Principle Investigator for this project is Dr. Wendy Chapkis, Professor of Sociology and Women & Gender Studies at the University of Southern Maine. Professor Chapkis is also the Faculty Scholar for the Sampson Center’s LGBTQ+ Collection (from 2016 through 2018). The LGBTQ Maine Oral History Project integrates USM students into the process of community-based research; after being trained each fall, students serve as interviewers and transcribers of the oral histories.
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.
Jean Byers Sampson Center for Diversity in Maine
University of Southern Maine
Cleveland, Ohio. Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Portland, Maine (1981-1989). AIDS Project, Frannie Peabody; Bookstore: “Our Books”; MLGPA; Newspaper: “Our Paper”; Portland City Council campaigns 1982 and 1986; organizing against anti-porn ordinance.
History of Gender | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | Oral History
Chapkis, Wendy, "Berger, Fred" (2017). Querying the Past: LGBTQ Maine Oral History Project Collection. 9.
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