A virtual Gala and auction will be held later this week, to celebrate Maine's LGBTQ+ communities.

EqualityMaine is a statewide organization that's been around since the mid-1980's, working to create a fair and just community for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Mainers. They do this in a variety of ways, including educating residents about the challenges and solutions, and advocating in Augusta on behalf of the LGBTQ+ communities.

A new challenge presented itself in 2020, as the pandemic forced the closure of their offices and cancellation of the annual fundraising gala. But Development Director Chris O'Connor told me, they weren't going to let that stop them from organizing an event that would celebrate members of their community, entertain everyone who stops in, and help with their fundraising.

So on Saturday, October 3rd, folks are invited to the EqualityMaine Virtual Gala, which will include guest speakers, live music, and more. Organizers are asking that attendees register in advance, so they can be sent the Zoom codes to join, but there is no cost for attendance. O'Connor says they're hoping people will host socially safe parties, within their 'family and friends bubble,' dress up, and order take-out to make it a fun celebration. Anyone who doesn't get a chance to register ahead of time, will be able to watch the Gala Live on Facebook.

In addition, there will be an online auction, that everyone can take part in. Anyone who's registered will have access to bid first, but the entire auction will be opened up to the public later this week. O'Connor says they have some great items up for bid, including unique experiences, like a live master cooking class on your computer, restaurant gift cards, and more. Find more information about the Equality Maine Gala on the event's Facebook page, and get ready to have some real fun during their virtual celebration.

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