A quick glance at our list might surprise you - not so much because of who's on it , but because of who isn't. For one thing, while a diverse selection of occupations are represented, notably absent are any representatives of local media - television, press or radio. Since I asked people to list influential queers in the Greater Portland area, it's understandable that upstate names such as state Treasurer Dale McCormick didn't show up. And while openly gay state Rep. Michael Quint, former Portland mayor Peter O'Donnell and former Portland City Councilor Barb Wood showed up on several lists, they didn't appear with enough frequency to make the final cut.
Where's the rest of us?
I asked some of the people who did end up on the final list to offer their ideas on what makes a person influential.
"Peter has been out of politics for a number of years," said David Garrity. "While supportive of gay efforts, he hasn't held a leadership position in the open." Garrity also said that since Michael Quint has taken his place as a gay leader fairly recently, "people have not yet seen the strength, determination and advocacy that he already has begun to display. He has as much efI'ect as anyone in securing the House majority vote [on gay rights]."
Pat Peard acknowledged Quint, O'Donnell and Wood as "leaders in.the community, though not as active in very public roles."
Michael Rossetti shared a similar view. "While the list is going to vary depending who you ask," he said, "people are going to name as influential those individuals that work publicly on everyday concerns."
"Do you remember what high school was like?" asked Karen Geraghty, "Popularity and influence back then was a fleeting kind of thing. If you had compiled this list in , Peter O'Donnell would have been on the top 10 and I wouldn't. And six months from now I may not." Geraghty believes it's only natural for there to be change over time in who is perceived as influential. And she said that being acknowledged as a leader can be a mixed reward. "The tendency, and perhaps the problem," said Geraghty, "is that when we elevate people to this position, we tend to think of them as perfect."
Other individuals whose names appeared frequently but did not make our top 11 are listed below alphabetically. Though some of the individuals listed no longer live in the Portland area, it's a testament to their influence that their names still appear.
- Bruce Balboni, co-founder of Community Pride Reporter
- Larry Bliss, director of career services at the University of Southern Maine and the Spring for Life AIDS benefit auction
- David Cedrone, artist
- Dennis Ferrante, active member of fashion industry and member of Pride Committee
- Robin Lambert, longtime gay activist
- Erik Richard, youth advocate
- Myles Rightmire, Portland public health worker
- Betsy Smith, teacher at Waynflete School and president of Maine Lesbian/Gay Political Alliance
- Winnie Weir, co-founder of Community Pride Reporter