Roger Mayo is a 69 year old gay cisgender man born raised in the mill town of Mexico, Maine. His parents operated a small business in town: Dorian’s Market. After a short marriage to a woman, Roger came out in Portland and moved to Ogunquit in the 1970s where he worked in a series of restaurants. In 1978, he moved to Portland where he worked in the Phoenix bar, lived at and worked in the Eastland Hotel, and worked in the Old Port. He describes anti-gay harassment including at the first Gay Pride March in Portland. Together with his then-partner Jim Neal, Roger opened one of Portland’s first explicitly gay-owned shops that carried gay-specific merchandise: Drop Me a Line. For 16 years, the store served as an unofficial queer community center hosting book signings and other events. He also helped produce the “Gay Guide to Maine,” a Pink Pages insert in Our Paper. He describes homophobic behavior by USM students and the instrumental role of Chris O’Connor in stopping it. In 1990, when the Maine Legislature once again failed to pass a gay Equal Rights Amendment, Roger Mayo agreed to be interviewed on Channel 6 TV in Drop Me a Line speaking as a gay man about the defeat. To support himself while running the store, Roger also worked for 22 years in the Portland Museum of Art and discusses the role of art in his life. Roger speaks about the early HIV/AIDS epidemic and the loss of 50 friends to the disease. He ends the interview talking about what he perceives as a disinterest among younger queers in the lives, history, and struggles of older gay people and a fracturing of the community into separate identity categories.
Mexico Maine, Dorian’s Market, small town gay life, Ogunquit in the 1970s, Phoenix bar, coming out to family, the Eastland Hotel, anti-gay harassment and gay bashing in Portland, first Pride Parade in Portland, Jim Neal, Drop Me a Line, Gay Guide to Maine Pink Pages, Our Paper, Matlovich Society, John Preston, USM students and homophobia, Chris O’Connor, Equal Rights Amendment defeat, Channel 6 tv news story, Lady Chablis, gay money, Portland Museum of Art, HIV/AIDS epidemic, LGBTQ community, generational differences
History of Gender | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | Oral History | Women's Studies
Chapkis, Wendy, "Mayo, Roger" (2023). Querying the Past: LGBTQ Maine Oral History Project Collection. 99.
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