REM Award Honorees (2018) — Katie Taylor (PFLAG Waterville)

Katie Taylor has a long history of volunteering, from earthquake relief in the Peruvian Andes in 1970 to helping various LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) organizations in northern New England today, as she tries to fill the needs she sees.

When Katie moved to Waterville, she tried to find a local support group she could attend. She knew of transgender peer groups in Bangor and Portland, but there were none in the central Maine area. So she started one, and then another, and then another, finally starting six different groups focused on supporting the LGBTQ+ community. When Katie learned about PFLAG Waterville, she immediately joined us.

Drawing from her life experiences and her knowledge of support systems ranging from mental health care to basic survival resources, Katie continues to provide ongoing education to PFLAG Waterville members and those attending meetings seeking guidance or help. As a result, various PFLAG Waterville members transitioned from being allies (supportive of LGBTQ+ equality) to advocates (those who work to change attitudes bringing full equality to those who are LGBTQ+) and even activists (those who take part in activities to make improvements in society).

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Katie has access to resources to make various presentations happen during 2017 such as the screening of Gender Revolution during which she was the discussion leader and co-leading a suicide awareness discussion. Along with other PFLAG Waterville members, Katie reached out to local churches and organizations to co-sponsor/partner with PFLAG Waterville these and other events that were free and open to the public.

Due to her involvement in PFLAG, Katie was asked to co-facilitate sessions at the Pleasant Street United Methodist Church to design an all-weather banner reflecting the church’s inclusiveness statement. In addition, she participated in a Colby Domestic Violence presentation and continues to support the Out & Allied Youth Theatre, a local social justice group, which awarded Katie (a.k.a “The Blonde Instigator”) its 2017 Community Award for her involvement, dedication, and persistence for social justice.

As a veteran and through her volunteer work, Katie provided LGBTQ+ health care trainings at Togus VA Hospital, which led to providing trainings at the VA hospitals in White River Junction, Vermont and Manchester, NH which, in turn, resulted in being asked to do trainings at a military college, nursing college, and to present at an April 2018 Transgender Wellness Conference.

When asked what has made the biggest difference in herself, Katie replied, “I’m changing the way the VA in northern New England is caring for its LGBTQ+ veterans.”

She stresses, “It’s important that PFLAG Waterville members and others share in the role of effecting positive social change. Our (LGBTQ+) voices are only so loud. We need allies aiding us as their heterosexual/straight voices are powerful. Allies have to be active to be effective by attending meetings and being involved in some way as to be seen by others. We simply need more people aiding us.”

For more information about PFLAG Waterville, visit its website.

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